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Auto CEOs and Labor

As CEOs from Detroit’s Big Three appealed to Congress for government relief, a friend sent me a link to a short 3 and 1/2 minute piece of video journalism by the Detroit News.

What I found was a compelling story about one of the most sophisticated and efficiently run car manufacturing plants in the world. The automation of assembly and coordination of suppliers was stunning. As I watched it, I felt like I was looking at some dreamer’s vision of the future.

Yet as the video report shows, it is all happening now, in an enormous, high tech auto assembly plant built by Ford Motor Company in an out of the way place of rural Brazil.

As the 3 and 1/2 minutes  came to an end, the Detroit News reporter commented that this is the kind of assembly plant that auto execs would like to build in the US if it were not for the resistance of the United Auto Workers Union.

I thought about the irony. While not doubting the historical excesses of organized labor, couldn’t help but remember that much of the country is still talking about the salaries and lifestyle of corporate executives that reminds us of why there is organized labor in the first place.

Admittedly, as a resident of Michigan, the story hits near to home. But it also hits even closer than that. The problem of corporate execs and labor bosses, all trying to protect themselves at the expense of the other, is marked by fingerprints and footprints that look way too much like my own. How can I deny that the story of the current economic mess in Detroit, Wall Street, and Main Street, is also a commentary on my own self-protective, self-indulging human nature.

Yes, in the mirror of auto execs and labor bosses, I see a reflection of my own need– not for justice– but for the undeserved and unlimited grace of our Lord Jesus Christ– for the failures of yesterday…and for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

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20 Responses to “Auto CEOs and Labor”

  1. poohpity says:

    I am confused about the comparison. I know we all have the need for undeserved and unlimited grace of our Lord Jesus Christ but I do not see how that applies that the rescue of corporate America. I know that I was saved from a lot of the consequences of my behavior but I still had to experience the after effects.

    My confusion comes because I see the lower class (poverty level) citizens who will feel the blows of the economy worse than anyone. While the ones who have charged outrageous prices and made outrageous profits are the ones getting the bail outs. The food banks and other institutes that give help are unable to because people are hanging on to what they would give. Explain to me what is happening here.

    The reason so many have stopped buying American cars is because they are inferior quality yet the prices are higher because of the labor unions. My family has always been in unions like the I.B.E.W. because their work is high risk yet when I go by while they are working they are reading a newspaper. People want more pay and yet deliver inferior work. It seems the work ethic is really bad even with doctors or any one else for that matter. There is a flaw some where but I believe it lies within so we just sit back and take it.

    Please explain this to me.

  2. taberlady says:

    Is it that you are conveying that none/no one is deserving of His grace & given this, no one person can righteously place blame on another? Is this what you want to convey? I would like to believe this, but nevertheless, people come into play and realistically people in one way or another then be to blame.
    No doubt, we should not focus on “blame” but, then what?
    I pray we keep faith in God and know w/in our hearts that our love for Him and His for us will prevail.

  3. Mart De Haan says:

    I can see why my comments are confusing. I was trying to show the different ways fallen human nature (within all of us) pits groups and classes of people against one another. i.e. the power of unregulated boardrooms and management corrupts, just as the unsupervised power of labor corrupts.

    I wish I had balanced this by showing how those without power are victimized… Thanks for pointing this out.

    taberlady, I think you’re seeing the same thing. I was trying to be even handed, but should not have overlooked real responsibility and accountability for wrongs wherever they show up. In this respect, there is a real need for justice in the kind of economic issues that are in view.

  4. plumbape says:

    I would beg to differ with this issue, the resistance that CEO’s get from the unions are simply cutting into there over paid salary. They send companies out of the country because labor is cheaper, no EPA to make sure they don’t pollute the planet and poison people at the same time. Your need for the saving grace of a Merciful God, like my own, is no where in the same building much less in the same mirror as these wealthy people. While at a meeting to plead with officials for bail out money they order $400. bottles of wine!! Maybe I’m being to judgemental but Money motivated people can’t serve two Gods.

  5. Mart De Haan says:

    plumbape, you’re right. I unintentionally minimized the real arrogance and excesses that are in view. But when I hear a sense of entitlement from either management or labor, see both sides blame the other, and then look in the mirror, I recognize inclinations in myself that– without accountability– would grow accordingly.

  6. wretch-like-me says:

    Admittedly, we all have the same base human nature to contend with. That’s why we need a savior. Is it any wonder that our country or the world for that matter is in the shape it’s in? The struggle has been going on since Adam blamed Eve for his own sin.(He knew the apple was forbidden…LOL)
    Yes, plumbape, Money…however, the LUST for money or any other (small ‘g’)god is what scripture warns us about.
    As I said in an earlier post, our own affluence creates a never ending appetite that steadily increases our standard of living. It’s like being hooked on drugs. No matter how much you use it never satisfies the desire. One day you take too much or your habit costs more than you earn and you trade your soul for your next fix.
    Sin works exactly the same way as drug addiction.
    One of our founding fathers (John Adams I think) once commented that this ‘Divine Experiment’ would not require christians to succeed however, having them would be good insurance. In other words, we cannot legislate morality… it must be ingrained in our citizens. No wonder the more we legislate God out of our government the more our country sinks into moral and economic crisis.

  7. daisymarygoldr says:

    Blissfully ignorant about “the mirror of auto execs and labor bosses” so, I am unable to comment on their problem … but what an antithesis to yesterday’s yummy yogurt!

    “…I see a reflection of my own need– not for justice– but for the undeserved and unlimited grace of our Lord Jesus Christ…”- MDH

    There is no known faucet that regulates the Grace of God to be turned on and off…it is always available. Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…hence for me, grace is not the need… at this point in my life, I “know” Him as Jehovah-Jireh and His grace is always sufficient for me, therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses (failures), so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor 12:9). Instead, the greatest need of the hour is that there is nothing else other than Him. The world needs more of Him… I desire more of Him and feel very guilty about not giving Him back more of me…

    “Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.” (Ps 73:25–26)!

  8. Ted M. Gossard says:

    It’s a tough one, Mart. The decadence has impacted all, and those whom they service to get their money are looking elsewhere.

    I don’t know what to think about what should be done. I think they’re trying to strike the right balance right now in calling for change before a bail out. I don’t think anyone is enthused, but what are the alternatives. It sounds good to let them start all over, but what happens to all the people who have lost their jobs?

    A grace which holds people accountable is what is needed here. But how to implement that would seem to require something like the wisdom of Solomon. We need to keep praying for our President and President-elect and others, during these days.

  9. One American says:

    Many of you out there do not seem to get the message. God says “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” Instead you are worried about what somebody else who can well afford it paid for a glass of wine.
    I believe what Mart was trying to say was that we should be looking at our own condition. Someone has asked me once “Who was closer to Christ, the Apostle Paul or Hitler?” The answer may seem obvious but it is not. In their fallen state, the Apostle Paul and Hitler stand side by side. No sin is greater than another in the eyes of a holy, righteous God.

  10. desert rose says:

    We all face accountability for what we do in our lives. Certainly the economic conditions in our country are horrible. I believe the majority of us have within us that desire to make as much as we can so we can enjoy a higher level of living. I do not feel that we can bail everyone out of trouble, but I am reminded that we all need to conservative on our spending and live within our means. We are to be good stewards of what God has given to us. Revival and prayer is what our country needs. I agree that we need to still be helping those who are having a difficult time right now.

    God’s grace is abundant in all of our lives. We are certainly unworthy of what He has done and accomplished. Should we not also look in a mirror and see the sinful nature we all have for wanting material things?

    There is no justification for the irresponsibility of management and the union leaders. I just know from experience that ‘little is much, when God is in it.”

  11. plumbape says:

    I Stand Corrected!! I was sinning as much as anyone by letting the resentment creep in. It’s hard to remain humble in a dog eat dog world. There has to be a balance between the big guys so that the little ones can continue to survive. Like the president-elect is doing with rivals in an effort to do what is best for the people. I need to stay in constant prayer for myself to serve the Lord as I can and others that have an enormous taast to deal with. If things do go from bad to worse it chould be the beginning of the end times which can’t come soon enough for this tired and often confused christian plumber.

  12. BruceC says:

    The comparison between the CEO’s and the union is something to ponder. It is a picture of our fallen nature run amok. “Gimme, gimme,gimme!!!” This is what happens when we as a nation replace God with money. I see a selfish reluctance to give up anything by both parties. Isn’t that just like us? Aren’t we just as selfish when it comes down to it? What makes us different is that Christ dwelling within us gives us a different direction; IF we don’t fight Him and we allow Him to do His work in us.
    Politically speaking; both parties involved had better start thinking about the nation as a whole and not just their own pockets or BOTH will suffer greatly and be on the outside looking in so-to-speak. Greed is a great destroyer and is not a characteristic of the super-rich only.

  13. chfranke says:

    What I find interesting about the current economic situation is America’s relationship to the world. When I was a kid some 60 years ago most of the undeveloped world was starving and struggling for survival. In Sunday School we prayed for them and gave our nickels and dimes to missions to build them up. Now, they have been built up materially if not spiritually. China is now a world power. India has become the source of doctors, scientists and IT support all over the world. Brazil is building a better life for their citizens because of the influence of many American companies building their plants there. We are seeing our prayers answered in our lifetime! Praise the Lord!
    What has been the cost? Has it been the reduction of the standard of living in the U.S? That is one way to look at it. Or maybe the cost has been a leveling of a standard of living throughout the world. Maybe we in the U.S. are being taught a lesson in living with less.
    Now, here’s the interesting part. The continent where a higher standard of living has not occurred is Africa where we are seeing the greatest increase in the growth of Christianity, ever. This is the continent where humanity came from and they are being blessed last. “The first will be last.” (Mt. 19:30) It is difficult to see God’s plan when you are in the middle of the change going on. What I do when that happens is stand back and look at it from God’s perspective to see where He is at work and then figure out what I need to do to join Him.

  14. poohpity says:

    I guess I could sit here and quote the bible all day about how sinful I am and how I have been saved by grace but I believe the problem is sitting here. I for one have to get up and start doing something. I will never be in the above 100K a year or even 50K but in my K I have to reach out and help wherever I can. So I am in the special K. I have got to be a doer of the Word so those that bash followers of Christ will having something to talk about. Have a special K day folks and laugh!!

  15. SFDBWV says:

    I read this topic before turning off the computer last night. I knew it was going to be a ringer….

    Two seperate issues to disscuss. World and spiritual.

    The world is looking for a savior to solve it’s financial disater, and bring peace to the Midle East. Doesn’t this sound a little familiar? The world will have it’s savior. Just as Israel has it’s King Saul.

    My savior came two thousand years ago. Not to bring prosperity and peace, but to draw a line in the sand. All thoes for HIM, stand with HIM. All thoes who oppose HIM stand against HIM, over the line.

    If you want to talk about Company greed and Unions. I could write a book about the subject. My grand father and I belonged to the UMWA, my father was a Teamster, my mother a member of the Communications Workers of America. There is a history of why there are unions, it is ugly and bloody. People should and will allways stand up against any oppressors. But sin will ruin the noblest of man’s intentions.

  16. Beatrice Carton says:

    really enjoyed all comments. thought if it gets us to look at our own lives and make changes that has to be good. we really must pray for those in responsible positions. God almighty will have the Final decision.
    Thank God we can all do that. early will i seek You lord. Not forgetting our brothers and sisters in Christ
    at RBC. May you be mightily blessed in these days.

  17. rokdude5 says:

    Shall we pray for both the CEOs and the labor unions? I look around where I sit at this moment and think that Im truly blessed by our Lord and Savior. Though in comparison to the CEOs “life style”, I dont have much yet I think if King Solomon himself showed up at my door, he would marvel at the “stuff” I got (yet I dont deserve any of it!)

  18. wretch-like-me says:

    Wonderful interaction!!! Good topic, Mart! May I interject a little twist and ask how many of us have considered tightening our belts and lowering our worldly living standard while raising our spiritual standard. I remember a story of a dear old ‘saint’ who continued to live on a meager amount (what we might consider poverty) even though his income doubled, tripled and increased tenfold. He did not(as one might assume) store away his treasure. He invested it in God’s bank by giving it to missions, churches, ministries, and those in need around him. He refused to buy into the world’s enticements(food,fun,fancies,& finery). Instead he took to heart a focus on this life and world as only a pilgrimage to the next eternal one. I confess I ‘pale’ when compared to this saint; however, I am inspired to live as meagerly as I can especially in these financially troubling times. I know many who have less than I and my wife taught me a lesson long ago(40yrs) that no matter how little we have we will always be willing to bless others with sharing it. Wrap your head and heart around this basic concept that Jesus taught… “Love your enemies”.
    Your turn!!!

  19. Rev. Jeff says:

    As I read through all the postings, I began to think about how all these things tend to stick in our craw, and then I remembered what Jesus talked about when asked about the signs of the end of the age. This one sentence says it all for me. “See that you are not troubled, for all these things must come to pass. . .” Jesus does not want us to worry about any of this. But that doesn’t mean we just lie down and let it happen either. Read and meditate on Matthew 6:25-34 and Psalm 37 – let the Holy Spirit write this upon your heart and live it. Then gird your self with the whole armor of God and doing all to stand,(Ephesians 6:10-20) then stand up! Take your marching orders and DO the word and not be hearers only. If you don’t like what’s being taught in your schools – and the Holy Spirit is directing you to be on the school board – then stand up and get on it. You may, in your head, not want to, but trust and obey God, when He is prompting you. You see the corruptness in our leaders – then VOTE them out, get some good Christian leaders elected and support them. You’ve got all the gifts and tools you need to get done what God wants you to, you just need to stir up the faith that is inside you. Do not let the lie that your one vote does not count – 35 million Christians did not vote this last election, was that part of their reasoning? We, when pointing the finger of blame have 3 fingers pointing right back at us. We have, for too long, have not done our part in keeping God first in all things – THIS INCLUDES ME! Stand!

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