Trump takes on GM: Guess who’s vic­to­ri­ous?

Orlando Sentinel - - OPINION -

worker re­ceived $35 an hour (in to­day’s dol­lars).

To­day, GM’s typ­i­cal Amer­i­can worker earns a frac­tion of that.

In 2010, when GM emerged from the bailout and went pub­lic again, it even boasted to Wall Street that it was mak­ing 43 per­cent of its cars in places where la­bor cost less than $15 an hour, while in North Amer­ica it could now pay “lower-tiered” wages and ben­e­fits for new em­ploy­ees.

So this year, when the costs of pro­duc­ing many of its cars in Ohio and Detroit got too high (due in part to Trump’s tar­iffs on for­eign steel) GM sim­ply de­cided to shift more pro­duc­tion to Mex­ico.

In light of GM’s de­ci­sion, Trump is also de­mand­ing that GM close one of its plants in China.

But this raises a sec­ond re­al­ity of share­holder-first global cap­i­tal­ism that’s ap­par­ently been lost on Trump: GM doesn’t make many cars in China for ex­port to the United States. Al­most all of the cars it makes in China are for sale there.

In fact, GM is now mak­ing and sell­ing more cars in China than it does in the United States.

Even as Trump has es­ca­lated his trade war with China, GM has in­vested in elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles and rideshar­ing tech­nolo­gies there.

Which brings us to a third fal­lacy be­hind Trump’s “Amer­ica First” eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism. Trump ac­cuses China of steal­ing tech­nol­ogy from Amer­i­can busi­nesses. But big Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions like GM are ea­ger to in­vest in China re­gard­less.

In share­holder-first global cap­i­tal­ism, tech­nol­ogy doesn’t be­long to any na­tion. It goes wher­ever the prof­its are.

“Mak­ing Amer­ica great again” has noth­ing to do with mak­ing Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions great again. Big Amer­i­can­based cor­po­ra­tions are do­ing won­der­fully well, as are their share­hold­ers.

The real chal­lenge is to make Amer­i­can work­ers great again.

If Trump were se­ri­ous about his aims, he’d try to re­duce the choke­hold of Wall Street in­vestors on Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions while strength­en­ing the hand of Amer­i­can la­bor unions.

Don’t hold your breath.

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