Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Sacrifice, Perpetual Motion, and the Boys of GM

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Sacrifice, Perpetual Motion, and the Boys of GM

Article excerpt

LEECHES, short black ribbons, slithered among the cattails in the warm, shallower swimming holes. Power shovels rusted like dinosaurs at the margins of the deeper swimming holes, gravel pits fed by chilly springs.

Just after World War II, we boys would ride our bikes out Mound Road into the Detroit hinterlands that were then under development, huge parcel by parcel, for factories and centers of the expanding auto industry.

The General Motors Tech Center now spreads across one of our favorite swimming holes. The GM brass, we are told, is spending more time there in the flat utilitarian environs and less time at their wood-paneled downtown headquarters. Relative informality is coming to GM in the wake of tremendous losses and amid gargantuan efforts to acquire the nimbleness needed for today's international competition.

The White House and Cabinet agencies also are democratizing, we are told. How indignant were the new arrivals on discovering their predecessors' perks! Executive dining rooms are being closed or hired out to caterers, or are starting to charge prices closer to true costs. Even the White House mess is to be opened to less-than-elite staffers - of whom there will be 25 percent fewer after the presidential ax falls.

Here there is some irony. A president who wants to create jobs cuts a swath through the staff closest to him.

GM's shrinking-down for competitive reasons and the executive branch's staff-trimming for political reasons are part of a vast leveling of the workplace that translates directly into sacrifice by the workforce. Salaries are flat, entry opportunities few.

The "sacrifice" that President Clinton has begun to ask for as the hallmark of his presidency is already familiar to the American people. His anticipated program of a half trillion dollars in spending cuts and tax hikes will come on top of some years of sacrifice to pay for the spending, and the interest on the spending, of the '80s. Americans sacrificed to fund the savings and loan bailout. They've funded the military - which, as Gen. Colin Powell points out, may not be that bad an investment, for employment as for other reasons. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.