Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Really Thick Silver Lining

As French car manufacturer Peugeot-Citreon shut down a British plant, cutting 2,500 jobs, the BBC thought it would be informative if they relayed the thoughts of one laid-off worker, Paul Taylor.

Mr. Taylor is 46 and has worked for the plant for seven years. No doubt his whole life is turned upside down, a reality made worse knowing his once-co-workers are in the same position. He's concerned: "Now we have got 2,500 people looking at the same job....It is easier for them to close this plant than a plant in France. They can get away with it here....It is hard to see a future in this industry - manufacturing is dying." He ends his thoughts with "It would be nice to hear something positive."


-Because the operations are moving to Eastern Europe, those there will benefit from the new job openings. Families in Eastern Europe grow richer.
-Because it's cheaper to operate there, the company will save money, allowing them to spend it on other things and by definition employ yet more people.
-Either that, or cars will be cheaper, but probably a mixture of the two will happen.
-Society will benefit from the additional services these newly employed people provide.
-2,500 are not looking for "the same job." I doubt you can build a car with over two thousand people who only know how to install windshields. The compeition isn't as bad as he thinks.
-There are now 2,500 smart people hungry to fill new gaps in the economy, contributing something valuable to society along the way. Some of them might retire but I'm confident the rest will find jobs.
-The ease of closing a plant in England as opposed to France is a testiment to progress. Adaptability in a world of constant change ensures society will continue to grow richer, even in unpredictable weather. Capitalism rarely stagnants.
-Manufacture IS dying in most developed countries, just as farming was mostly phased out a hundred years ago. Not a bad deal as most would prefer an air conditioned office to a factory floor to a dirty patch of land as a work environment.
-As long as the UK economy remains adaptable, a new sector(s) will rise up. Adaptability means opportunity.
-In all, there is a small net gain for global society in the short run and a much larger gain in the long run once new jobs are found. That might not matter much to you but your children (and their children) will thank you.

If you don't believe me, ask what you think would happen if UK textile manufacturers couldn't fire expensive workers during the twentieth century. Even if you weren't working a loom, your clothes would cost a lot more.

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