Monday

China Buys Saab - Are they buying everything?

Well, there's good news and, maybe, bad news.
Chinese companies, encouraged by government bureaucrats to expand ownership of foreign companies and assets, have now pledged to buy Saab, the Swedish auto maker that has been struggling to survive ever since GM cut them loose in the GM corporateUS  bankruptcy that closed down the Pontiac brand and wiped out the Saturn brand too.

The China companies that had long sought to take over the Swedish car company timed it pretty good, at times promising money and loans and million-dollar purchases, and at other times blaming government bureaucrats for blocking their corporate desires of conquest. The whole effort seems to have worked to break the back of union workers in Sweden who haven't been paid for weeks while dust gathers on factories of half-built Saab vehicles.

Meanwhile, Swedish court officials ran out of patience and threatened to drop Saab into the bankruptcy bucket for good - repeatedly.

Finally, up rides the white knight to save the day and, lo and behold, he's from China. That story had a different ending for sure.

We're just as much for free enterprise as the next guy, but Chinese companies and millionaires have been buying up real estate and companies and everything in between, on more than just one continent, for the last decade and it's getting to be a sore point. Granted there isn't much to be done about any of it, one could suppose.

On the other hand, you and I could start with the small places in our lives and start buying American products again. If Americans would stop looking at the price tag and start looking at the tiny tag that says where the product was made, and then buy products that are made in the US, it just might start to help put Americans back to work again.

While at the local Target store the other day, I decided to buy a box of pencils. Just ordinary pencils. I found a box of Ticonderoga brand - what we all used in grade school not so long ago - that cost nearly five dollars for a box of a dozen. Next to it was a larger box of two dozen pencils for a dollar. You can guess which one was made in China. It was the one I didn't buy.

The American economy can't run on the service industry alone. If we stop making products, we won't have the manufacturing capacity and knowledge necessary to remain independent of foreign influence. Yes, we realize this day and age is, to a large degree, a global economy. But there's something very wrong with a price structure that allows pencils shipped thousands of miles from China to cost so little that an American company can't stay in business making them when they ship them a few states away.

Part of the problem may be that politicians, bought by big business that shipped jobs overseas, not only gave tax incentives that wiped out jobs on US soil in favor of overseas jobs, but they also failed to create tariffs that could protect what little US jobs were left behind too. Money paid into a politician's pocket right now, means a dollar bill that never gets to a working man's pocket tomorrow.

Money is the root of the problem and it is not an issue for the President either because it is Congress that controls the playing board right now. If your Congressional representative and Senator don't act to protect your job, there is nothing the President can do. Congress has to pass the laws - no one else can do that in our political system.

Meanwhile, politicans bicker and blame each other and get nothing done and millions of jobs are shipped overseas and what few jobs don't disappear are in companies that are being gobbled up by foreign investors and government-backed companies - and who is watching out for you?

After all, when an American President said (long ago) that "the buck stops here" - he wasn't talking about the Yuan.
Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers live better lives everyday