Friday, January 02, 2009

More On America

My friend, Bob, wrote me about my previous post, Doom is a Good Choice. Evidently, I was being a little too vague.

My wife drives a Honda Odyssey. It’s her second one. They are great cars. They also happen to be manufactured in Alabama.

Singapore Airlines is one of the finest airlines in the world. Bob, having recently flown on them, wanted to make sure I knew that. Bob and I both know that none of our airlines -- currently -- are much to brag about. The Singapore government owns a large portion of Singapore Airlines.

I’m not arguing that the U.S. government should buy a large stake in one of our airlines. I’m not saying that Alabamians should be making “American” cars. I am saying that there are other ways to be successful than what has been the accepted wisdom in the U.S. for the last 30 years. I am saying we need to look at the whole picture. For instance, Singapore has a universal healthcare system that works in conjunction with a private healthcare system. Japan has a universal healthcare insurance system. I don’t know what the autoworkers in Alabama have but I’m betting it isn’t “universal” anything. I bet they don’t have a union either.

The pilots of Singapore Airlines do (have a union.)

”The salary ranges of SIA's pilots were made public during the first day of the hearings, and the press noted that the airline's 935 captains who fly the Boeing 777 received higher salaries (over S$270,000) at the mid-point of their salary brackets compared to the company's 36 vice-presidents (S$233,270) “

(Have I mentioned how much I love Wikipedia lately ?)

I’m not an expert on all these matters but the more you know the more questions you can ask. Of yourself. Of business. Of your country. Tell me again what is wrong with universal healthcare or universal healthcare insurance ? Japanese “quality” from Alabama ? A successful airline that pays its captains as well ours used to be paid (back when they were successful) ? How do they do that ? Is it unions, that they value pilots more than vice presidents or because their government helps them out ? Or all three ? Could it be the universal healthcare ? What would universal healthcare do for our airline industry and car manufacturing industry ? What would it do for our citizens ?

All I’m saying is that when someone mentions universal healthcare, the debate ought to be a little deeper than “That’s socialism.” Unions don’t cripple car manufacturers anymore than they do airlines. You don’t have to look to Singapore Airlines, just ask the folks at Southwest.)

Don Brown
January 2, 2009

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