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Too Much Capacity

We live in a rapidly changing world; we have had one of the worst downturns in our history. I am appalled that we now have governments stepping in to bail out all the industries and financial institutions that have been affected by it, when I believe these very industries and our financial wizards, either through total stupidity or more frighteningly arrogance have probably caused it all to happen in the first place, all in the fevered pursuit of obscene profits and bonuses. Yet these "leaders" are not accountable for what they have done, they still believe they deserve their bonuses, the gall of these people. I read that the top one percent of our society has more wealth than the bottom ninety five percent combined, that is a sobering statistic. I know downturns have happened before, but not to the extent we are seeing today, where, via the media we are painfully aware of the consequences of what has happened, it is endlessly talked about, blogged about, videoed about and on and on.

I believe we are in for a rude awakening in the next few years, I know we hear things are turning around, so slightly and the whole thing is very weak, so weak the slightest problem could set off the spiral again. The recovery everyone is touting is not going to come, at least not to the level we used to have had in the past year. We the consumer have been burned, we are bruised, we are wondering what is going to happen to our jobs, our pensions, will we have anything at all, if we have saved are going to be able to enjoy our retirement. Where is our bailout?

I will rely here on an article I read recently, which applies to both of our countries, Canada and the United States; we are inexorably linked, via our economies and our borders.

"One of the biggest challenges facing the American economy is that we lack a domestic manufacturing base. Simply put we do not produce anything anymore. We buy tons of foreign goods and then wonder why we are lacking jobs. We import most of our goods which has resulted in a huge trade deficit and industrial job losses. Our economy has transitioned from an agricultural society to an industrial society to a service economy. The problem with being a service economy is that services are the first thing that consumers eliminate during difficult times. We need to become more of a mixed economy that combines industrial production with service."

"In 2006 Warren Buffett said, "The U.S trade deficit is a bigger threat to the domestic economy than either the federal budget deficit or consumer debt and could lead to political turmoil... Right now, the rest of the world owns $3 trillion more of us than we own of them." The US trade deficit severely hinders US economic growth. As Buffett puts it, "Our country's net worth is now being transferred abroad at an alarming rate."

Other factors persist such as concessions from industrial unions. Employers need to pay a fair and livable wage to unions but do need to get union workers to agree to some cost cutting measures.

Without a return to its manufacturing base the United States will struggle to attain any viable long term economic growth." (From Seeking Alpha website.)  How can we continue to allow this to happen, yet believe we will recover with the limited manufacturing base we have right now. Whirlpool is in the process of closing another manufacturing plant and sending the work to Mexico, why, how much profit do we need to make for each fridge sold, at the cost of North American jobs.

I believe we need to return to the competitive nations we once were, making the products everyone copied and still do, we have to return our manufacturing plants to within our countries borders, as part of the bailout manufacturers have to start to build plants in North America. As was already said we need to be nations who pay fair wages for a good days work, we need to be nations who regard our workers as the best in the world, our companies have to be relentless in the pursuit of productivity and reliability which are key to that productivity. We need to continue on the road to have the best equipment reliability we can muster, we need to remove every bit of waste in our production processes; we need to make our companies ones that run from shutdown to shutdown, flawlessly. By doing this we will be doing the right things to keep our workers safe, to saving energy and giving back a good return on the money invested in our plants and making the best products in the world, efficiently and reliably.

Why have we farmed out all of our manufacturing to countries with cheap labor forces, for what, more profits, yet I have not seen any reduction in product prices based on cheap labor costs. Nor have I seen better products than we ever made, because no one can do the quality work like we do.  To be the best we can we have to embrace every PdM technology out there in our maintenance programs, we have to remove useless PM's so every time work is done it is the right work based on information, not conjecture and "we have always done it this way" type of thinking. Every bit of work done needs to be done based on information gleaned from sound maintenance processes, with properly trained and engaged people.

The key here is engaged people, too many times trades people are relegated to the easily disposed of group, because we have to cut costs. This sends a bad message and leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those left behind. We are dealing with those feelings now, with those left in the workforce with their friends and co-workers relegated to the ranks of the unemployed, angry and bitter because they are working and others are not, also wondering if they are next. The tradesperson is one of the most important people on the plant floor, they are the people who believe good maintenance work pays off in huge dividends, reliable equipment from shutdown to shutdown, if it wasn't for the hard work of these people keeping the plants running like they have would we have had the profit margins we have up until now.

If we are doing the right things, people will be accountable at all levels of the company, bonuses will come our way, earned bonuses, because we will be looked upon as the best and continuously prove it, every time someone sees us operate, they will see quality work. Based on that level of quality there has to be an equitable bonus system at all levels, based on performance, if it is good, good bonuses, bad performance everyone suffers, which does not seem to be the case today, bad performance is still rewarded, everyone in the bailout group still sees the need to get their bonuses even though they screwed up and ruined the world we live in.
Why have we stopped believing in ourselves?

The mess we are in was created by greed; let's allow sensibility, fair wages, and good sense to prevail.

Article Submitted by Geoff Generalovic who invites your comments and feedback below.

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