- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bankruptcy in the automotive industry

“Delphi jolts parts industry” (Business, Oct. 10) is only the beginning of many future bankruptcy filings in the American automotive industry. American automotive companies and their suppliers face the impossible task of being competitive with foreign suppliers while earning a profit for shareholders.

To those familiar with the demise of much of America’s steel industry, this is simply deja vu. American auto companies with unrealistic labor contracts, a large number of retirees and enormous health care costs simply cannot generate enough revenue in the highly competitive auto industry to break even, let alone earn profits. Delphi, formerly a part of General Motors Corp., has unionized labor costs of $65 per hour when pension and health care benefits are included. You can bet that Honda’s non-union American plants don’t dish out that kind of money for labor.

GM and Ford Motor Co. are both struggling. Both have seen their debt ratings fall to “junk” status and prospects for future profitability are grim. Just like American steel, they will have to rationalize capacity, renegotiate labor contracts, merge or sell some or all of their assets to foreign investors for pennies on the dollar.

The irony in all of this is that it has been American carmakers, faced with stiff competition from imports, who have constantly hammered their suppliers for lower and lower prices while failing to manage their own labor costs. Now Delphi is asking its unions for 60 percent reductions and the unions are telling their members to get ready for a strike. Delphi’s CEO has warned the unions that a strike will result in more plant closings.

Henry Ford once paid his workers the outrageously high price of $5 a day. Decades later, organized labor has turned that into an amazing $520 a day including benefits. Is anyone surprised by the fact that the American automobile industry is in serious trouble?

RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio

Pakistan and human rights

Gruesome earthquake pictures from Pakistan draw an ironic parallel with the powerful and graphic images depicting the recent invasion of an Ahmadi mosque in a village south of Islamabad. The article “8 Killed, 19 Wounded at Pakistan Mosque” (Washington Times Web site, Oct. 7) reported masked gunmen raided and showered bullets on an Ahmadiyya Muslim community while it was engaged in morning prayers. While Pakistan has sought the compassion and relief the world is extending, dramatic images in world papers capturing the plight of Ahmadiyya Muslims have failed to win the sympathies of Pakistani politicians themselves for years. This is a blatant double standard that holds for the suffering of minority communities in Pakistan in general, and with the Ahmadiyya community in particular.

In 1974, the government of Pakistan passed the second amendment to Pakistan’s constitution, which expressly declared Ahmadiyya Muslims to be non-Muslim, and passed the “anti-blasphemy” penal provisions in 1984 and 1986, which regard virtually any public act of worship or devotion by an Ahmadiyya Muslim as a criminal offense.

I am an Ahmadi Muslim and spent my childhood years in the same town of Mandi Bahauddin where the frightful murders that violated this holy month of Ramadan were perpetrated. The overwhelming grief of the families of those who died within the bullet-pierced and blood-splattered walls of the Ahmadiyya mosque is the same grief and torment that families of earthquake victims are enduring now. Certainly, the experience of pain is universal.

Now is the season for Pakistan to wake up, having slept on this glaring human-rights issue as though in a coma for more than 30 years.

BILAL A. RANA

Houston

Wait-and-see approach not good enough

In reply to Paul Greenberg’s opinion piece “Wait, listen… recover” (Commentary, Saturday), I believe there are three reasons why wait-and-see is not adequate: Risk is not acceptable given so important an appointment as a swing vote on the Supreme Court. Risk is not necessary since we have a score of qualified candidates with an originalist judicial philosophy ready and waiting. And even Harriet Miers’ supporters admit we’ve got nothing but a promise with respect to her judicial philosophy (i.e. risk is accrued).

One could reply to my argument that since the Miers pick is a fait accompli, it is now more preferable to accept some risk of another Justice Souter/O’Connor/Blackmun as opposed to torpedoing the last three years of Mr. Bush’s presidency and maybe the next two election cycles.

My reply is that liberal judicial activism has so skewed the government that except for the war power (the president’s) and the power of the purse (Congress), the Supreme Court is otherwise running the country. I cite, for example, last year’s decision in the University of Michigan affirmative action case (which Miss Miers supported, by the way). Changing the rationale for affirmative action from “remedial action for past discrimination” to “diversity as a legitimate goal” has essentially legalized racial discrimination in this country.

I could also cite the case Kelo v. the City of New London and a score of others before one even gets to Roe v. Wade. I just bought a house and now I learn that merely due to the flawed intellect of a David Souter I no longer have private property rights. And there is nothing I can do about it — except fight for control of the courts.

With regard to the elections, I say that since the real power over real issues lies with the Supreme Court, then this nomination is the whole ballgame. Who cares if a Miers stealth strategy gets a few more Republicans elected next time around? The Supreme Court is what all the elections were about.

So I reiterate: I wish to accrue no risk in this nomination. I want Miss Miers out, and someone like Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown or J. Michael Luttig up there regardless of what this does to Mr. Bush or the Republican senators. They fail to understand this at their own peril (assuming there are a significant number of conservatives like me).

JAMES D. SINCLAIR

Lexington Park, Md.

A ‘defensive’ posture for Taiwan

The article (“U.S. pushes defense over offense for island arms,” World, Oct. 8) on Taiwan is interesting but raises some questions.

That Taiwan needs to better organize its military forces and command structure in order to maximize existing defensive capabilities rather than simply adding more and more hardware to its arsenal is a view the United States has taken in the past. Also, until the current Bush administration, Taiwan’s requests for certain systems such as submarines, deemed too “provocative,” were routinely denied (ironically, the submarine question may very well prove to be moot due to the current lack of U.S. ability to construct non-nuclear submarines and the difficulty of finding an alternate supplier).

What is unclear from the Pacific Command’s reasoning, at least as described in the article, is how it arrived at which of the systems in question are “defensive.” Military hardware cannot always be neatly divided into “defensive” and “offensive” categories. What makes a weapon “defensive” or not is sometimes determined by a given set of circumstances — obviously, a handgun used by a robber to stick up a liquor store is not “defensive,” yet the same weapon can be used by a liquor-store owner to defend against a robber. But it certainly does seem inherently contradictory, as the article states, to simultaneously characterize both submarines and the anti-submarine patrol aircraft used to locate and attack submarines as “offensive.”

Promoting the use of mines to defend against amphibious landings at least is logical, given that a mine is a type of weapon that is predominantly used in defense rather than offense. However, promoting their use by Taiwan also strikes me as ironic in view of the recent worldwide trend toward banning such weapons — unless the mines referred to are underwater or anti-tank mines, not covered under the Ottawa Convention.

T. J. MORGAN

McLean

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