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    Monday, June 27, 2005

    What's Bad for GM is Bad for the Country: Via Mickey Kaus, comes this Ron Brownstein analysis of General Motors' woes:

    In 1996, GM spent $3 billion to provide healthcare to 1.2 million workers, retirees and family members. This year, it expects to spend $5.6 billion to cover 1.1 million people. That means GM's per-person expenditures for healthcare have doubled (from $2,500 to nearly $5,100) in less than a decade. GM now spends more than $1,500 on healthcare for each car it produces. That's more than it spends on steel.

    Brownstein goes on to argue that the solution is to shift the cost of supporting GM's autoworkers to the rest of us. But this isn't really a solution. The people of the United States are not an unlimited source of wealth, and our country's demographics are the same as GM's - there is a much larger population of retirees and soon-to-be-retirees than there are workers - and those retirees are expensive to support.

    A couple of weeks ago, our local paper ran a story about GM's woes, too, and it pointed out that there GM employees 20,000 people in northeast Ohio. The number of GM retirees in northeast Ohio, however, is 60,000. Each GM worker is working not only to support himself, but also to support three retirees.

    And how do those retirees live? Very well, thank you. A substantial number of my patients are GM retirees - and by that I mean union member retirees, not the office workers or cafeteria workers. Most of them can afford vacation homes. Several of them have laughed at my car - an economy model Saturn. A couple of weeks ago, as he was leaving the office, one of my GM retirees was trying to talk me into investing in a time share. As part of his sales pitch he mentioned it was "only $20,000." My jaw dropped. I can't imagine having an extra $20,000 lying around to spend on something as frivolous as a vacation spot - can you?

    The rest of us can't afford support the autoworkers in the style to which they are accustomed any better than GM can.

    posted by Sydney on 6/27/2005 08:07:00 AM 0 comments


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