Editorial: Auto Ills

Cleveland, OH - I may be a Monday morning quarterback, but that doesn't change the fact that the blame for the sad plight of the American automobile makers and the communities which depend on them rests with a lot of people who, for a generation, kept their heads snugly in the sand. Ford Motor Company, which is struggling just to remain in business, announced this week that they would close the Cleveland casting plant and idle 1,100 workers. GM is in similar shape and you have to believe that the future of their Ohio facilities is also uncertain.

The Detroit car makers and their unions are both responsible for much of this pain - agreeing years ago to labor contracts that are now strangling the companies.  And the car makers are also guilty of not taking the foreign competition seriously enough back when they could have done something about it. Today, nobody makes cars better than we Americans but 25-years ago we got a little sloppy and our own citizens turned away from American made cars.

And what about our leaders in Washington who have done nothing about unfair trade laws which place American car makers at a disadvantage while pouring profits into Tokyo? Trade laws have to change if the American auto industry is to be saved.  It's all very sad - made sadder by the suffering of those factory towns who thought the American auto industry would always be here and are now left wondering where it all went wrong.