September 25th, 2007

#591: Hurt Your Employer So You Don't Lose Your Job

I never fail to be amazed at the stupidity of the United Auto Workers.

The UAW is worried that GM won't guarantee to build cars in the US in the future, so they go on strike. That's right: they force a shutdown of manufacturing plants so that GM can't make and sell its product, thus costing the company more money at a time when it's already bleeding red ink.

The article cites a $25-per-hour disparity in what US autoworkers are paid and what Japanese autoworkers are paid; but in fact Japanese cars are not the only kind they have to worry about. They have to worry about Hyundai and Kia--both Korean makes--and soon they may have to worry about Chinese makes as well.

The Japanese worry about the Koreans the same way American automakers used to worry about the Japanese. That is highly instructive.

It used to be that getting in at an auto plant meant you were basically set for life. You didn't have to worry about having an education, you knew you'd have good pay and benefits, and as long as you didn't screw up too badly or too often there was a good chance you'd never get fired. But those days are over, and they actually ended in the 1970s when Japanese cars first became popular. It's just taken time for the fallout to settle.

These days it's impossible for any corporation to give its employees--current and former--feather beds to rest in. The elaborate health care plans are going to have to go away, one way or another; the premium wages will stop keeping up with inflation until they're more in line with other manufacturers. The unions have a basic choice: go along to get along, or drive the employers out of business--or out of the country, which amounts to the same thing, because it means no American assembly workers anymore.

Except for those who are working in Japanese (and other) plants...all of which are, as I recall, non-union shops.

#592: SubaruCo character names

I don't have the family names yet.

Sayoko Igarashi, founder and leader
Misao (Faith)
Hakuai (Charity)
Yousha (Mercy)
Makoto (Truth)
Sokai (Hope)
Teiko (Chastity)
Asa Saitou (who is later the star of American Dawn)

I had thought of "Kannon" for Mercy--Kannon is the Buddhist god of mercy--but decided against it, because I don't know if that kind of thing is done in Japan. (Indians do it all the time, of course; my 7th grade science teacher was named "Vishnu".) And I like the sound of "Yousha".

Of the names of the "virtues", only "Misao" and "Makoto" are traditional Japanese names, but that doesn't bother me very much.

I really don't know what to expect from all this, though, whether I'm actually going to begin doing layouts or what. Since my manga work is entirely for my own amusement, I only work on a story when it suits me to; I only draw what I want to draw and when I want to draw it. I guess that keeps me from being a really good artist, since you must constantly hone your skill, but the last thing I wanted from all this was a millstone or an albatross. I want it to be fun, not work.

So far, it's been fun to think about SubaruCo, so I've been thinking about it. We'll see what happens from here.