The Auto Economy

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Just back from Germany

I just got back from a week long vacation in Germany. I stayed with friends in Cologne and visited a few of the surrounding cites. On Friday, we rented a BMW 320i and made our own tour of castles south of Cologne.  My autobahn top speed was 210kph or 130mph. The thing I will miss most is the food. I wish we had a bakery on every corner like they do.

If the current recession has hit Germany, it doesn’t show. Walking around Cologne there is construction everywhere. New shops going up everywhere. The stores are busy and bustling. Germany has been careful to not outsource it’s labor force to foreign markets as much as we have in the US. If German companies need cheap labor, they set up shop in the former East German territories. This way, at least the GDP stays local to Germany’s economy.

Why can’t we do the same thing here? Sure, we couldn’t pay the minimal wages we pay Chinese prison laborers to sew soccer balls with their teeth, but I’m sure there are willing laborers in states like West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, etc. The cost to ship thing from Alabama factories to stores in the US would have to be a LOT cheaper than shipping it from Shanghai. At the same time, we would have an easier time making sure those workers are treated ethically and there are better safety standards in the products they produce. Just ask any Mattel executive about lead in toys and see what kind of reaction you get.

Yes some prices will go up. Do you really think $30 for a DVD player is reasonable? It’s time that we start demanding some real quality in the products we purchase.

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