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IW 06

USA

Delphi, GM and the US crisis

 

The political exhaustion of Bush is already a recurring theme in the press worldwide. The yanqui government finds itself on the defensive on all terrains. It painfully drags behind it the ball and chain of Iraq and its disastrous actuation in New Orleans, in the aftermath of Katrina, while the denunciations of the “scandals” and official corruption have become an everyday affair. In early February, Paul Pillar, the CIA's most important Middle East specialist until he resigned in 2005, launched “an unprecedented attack on the White House” for its manipulation of the espionage services in justifying the war in Iraq. Nothing new, apparently. “However, never before has such an important official of the CIA made such a clear accusation against Bush” (Rupert Cornwell, The Guardian, Feb 11). A lobbyist now involved in an investigation due to all kinds of misdeeds and money laundering —Jack Abramoff- not only turns out to have been the blue-eyed boy of Republican party legislators: he has just stated that he has met with Bush “almost a dozen times and had even been invited to the President's Texas ranch” (ídem). In a recently televised interview on CNN, two “popes” of the yanqui press, well-known for having unearthed “Watergate” which finished off Nixon, have just denounced that in Congress there is no law passed without money changing hands in order to purchase “representatives”. The only thing they left out was “que se vayan todos” (all of them must go). Behind the crisis of the yanqui regime operate very powerful factors associated with the insurmountable limits of the present capitalist order. A crisis which is now joined by a revitalization in the workers movement.

Delphi is the tip of the iceberg. GM recently reported a net loss of 8.6 billion dollars for 2005. Although in that loss are discounted exceptional costs of restructuring, a Delphi bankruptcy, the fall in profits without these outlays would stand at 3.4 billion dollars, in contrast with the 2,8 billion in profits for 2004. The economic forecasts have begun to include the possible fall of General Motors. “If the union strikes, GM could close down and suffer massive losses that could reach 20 billion dollars, according to Jonathan Steinmatz, of the Morgan Stanley bank” (Europa Press, February 6).

The new deadline set by the bosses for the end of March has opened a new round of negotiations with the trade union; joined by representatives of GM who could bring support in the form of “financial contributions”. Robert Miller, the boss at Delphi, “changed the position the company has had up till now towards the workers, whom he has blamed publicly for the difficulties facing Delphi” (EFE, Jan 17). The representative of the trade union bureaucracy (UAW) stated, for his part, that an alternative solution would be for the State to subsidize the production of cars and solve the problem of the bankruptcy of the pension funds, one of the central points in the conflict.

Business deals and the lobby

The bankruptcy announced by Delphi, like all capitalist bankruptcies, is still at the same time a new business deal; up to some time ago “executives faced the bankruptcy of their companies as a testimony of failure... while now they have become an opportunity for profits for top management” (“Bankruptcy Bonus Bonanza”, in Too Much, January 16). If, by means of extortion, altered balances and maneuvers of all kinds, they are able to break the collective bargaining agreements, negotiate a cessation of payments with other capitalists and avoid shutting down, the shares of their bankrupt companies start to rise again and executive incomes may be multi-million, tied to the value of the stocks themselves.

Miller is an expert in this area, since he has already executed this kind of operations with an enormous steel monopoly —Bethlehem Steel— and also with an airline —United Airlines.

The perspectives for converting the round of negotiations with the union into a kind of “lobby” with the government for bankrupt automobile industry capital has turned the whole Delphi-GM affair into a kind of ‘question of State’. The press says that Bush seems “reticent”. Because the present crisis has underlined the fact that the monstrous profits enjoyed by all yanqui capital in recent years were propped up by a kind of monstrous appropriation of “delayed or indirect” workers wages to cover health and pension costs. For this reason the respective “funds” of gigantic capitalist monopolies are in ruins. The appeal to a solution financed by the State is quite utopian and not only because of the monstrous fiscal deficits. A strong government is required to face such a question, to impose the costs of such a move on the workers. And that is not the case with Bush.

by Pablo Rieznik