Re: US vs Japanese Cars and Workers
IMO the wage differential is a red herring, although the U.S. creates a competitive disadvantage for manufacturers with its ridiculous system of providing inefficient and overpriced health insurance coverage (at least for some) exclusively through employers.
I am pretty confident your average German autoworker makes at least as much as your typical UAW employee of GM, Ford, and Chrysler while BMW and Mercedes have no problem selling their products in the States.
My last domestic manufacturer American car was a Pontiac Phoenix (from the GM "X" car line that was probably rock bottom for quality, featuring an automatic tranny on my car that failed at 45,000 miles) and I have never regretted my subsequent purchases, one of which was an American made Acura. The domestic automakers problems are lousy cars and terrible management; they gave up trying to market cars and decided to make $$ exclusively on SUVs and trucks. Now the bottom has fallen out of the SUV market while the Japanese manufacturers have the lead on hybrids as the U.S. manufacturers have spent the last 20 years lobbying Congress to keep the lid on increasing mileage standards.
If U.S. manufacturers cut wages they still would have the same problems with quality and unappealing designs; the layoffs need to come in the executive suites.