The White Shadow Over Detroit

I’m a white guy who works for a living. Other white guys who work for a living are my natural allies. That doesn’t mean I won’t call them on their shit.

Detroit is bankrupt. Blacks took over the city in 1967 and proceeded to burn it down, first quickly then slowly. But it’s not like they didn’t have help.

The US auto industry had a captive market after World War II. The common people had money to buy cars again, and they spent freely on them. The UAW, and to a lesser extent management let this go to their heads. People would buy anything shiny, whether it worked well or not. Lee Iacocca was the industry’s genius. He wasn’t an engineer though, he was a marketing man- one of the suits Don Draper gets booze and whores for. It’s all marketing, he confidently told the business press.

The UAW figured this was time for the guys working on the line- a really unpleasant job, repetitious and with a lot of pressure- to make a good, or better than good living. Worse, their leadership, the head of which was Walther Reuther, figured the great prosperity of the union was to be used in service of the leftist cause.

But not everybody wanted the kind of three-ton monster Detroit made money on. In the 60’s, Volkswagen started to sell its small, cheap, air-cooled cars, with the kind of “small and frugal is beautiful” advertising that is common in selling to SWPLs today. Reuther got Lyndon Johnson to put a tariff on VW light trucks and vans that remains in force to this day.

As gas became more expensive in the early 70’s, people became more interested in small cars, now coming from Japan as well. The UAW hated this trend. The cars were junk, they said. They were being sold unfairly below cost. Only faggots and losers drove foreign cars.

Outside of the industrial heartland, these arguments didn’t sway people. They didn’t see the need to buy a crappy, ugly car to support the union people in Michigan. In the Upper Midwest and mid-Atlantic states, the use of salt on roads meant cars rusted through in a few years, and buying a car to last a long time didn’t make sense, so Hondas and Toyotas had less appeal. But elsewhere, people whose incomes were declining- not rising, like the still powerful UAW members- needed an expensive item like a car to be reliable and last a long time. Buying a new car every few years could be done while the phony prosperity lasted, but when it started to die it was no longer an option.

For a long time Detroit and other cities in Michigan and the region benefited from the great wealth produced by the auto industry. But the region declined along with the Big Three automakers. Under pressure, the Japanese and German automakers started building plants in the US, but they built them in the South where the UAW would be unlikely to be able to organize. So far they haven’t.

Had white people in the industrial heartland been better engineers and factory workers, had the white men running those businesses been more far-sighted, had they put less effort into promoting leftist social policies and more into building good cars, the American auto industry would still be healthy. Detroit would still have been taken over by blacks, but they would have less unchallenged political power and the collapse wouldn’t have been as extreme. There would be more money to keep things running.

The libertarian fantasy of a world run by benevolent businessmen is foolish. The socialist fantasy of a world run by benevolent professors and politicians is even more foolish. When you’re bred in a place where winter is six months long, shit has to work. There is no place for foolish fantasies.

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About thrasymachus33308

I like fast cars, fast women and southern-fried rock. I have an ongoing beef with George Orwell. I take my name from a character in Plato's "Republic" who was exasperated with the kind of turgid BS that passed for deep thought and political discourse in that time and place, just as I am today. The character, whose name means "fierce fighter" was based on a real person but nobody knows for sure what his actual political beliefs were. I take my pseudonym from a character in an Adam Sandler song who was a obnoxious jerk who pissed off everybody.
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19 Responses to The White Shadow Over Detroit

  1. Quartermain says:

    Excellent post.

  2. Ryu says:

    Hmmm. I didn’t know the UAW got involved with leftist politics. So you’re a fan of the old VWs?

    • The old VW was designed as affordable family transportation for the German worker by Ferdinand Porsche. That right there is a pretty good start, am I right? The air-cooled engine wore out faster than a water-cooled one, but was cheap to overhaul and more reliable than water-cooled engines- I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember, but the cooling system was a frequent source of trouble on cars back in the day. Rear-mounted over the drive wheels, the car had excellent traction in snow- people in the north used to like them for this reason. Rear wheel drive, front engine cars and front wheel drive cars both have pretty crappy traction. The car can seat four adults and you can put two small children in the space behind the rear seat- the “back back” as we called it when I was a kid.

      The car is only obsolete because of safety regulations, and you can still buy a new one in Brazil and Mexico as far as I know. A two seat, souped-up six-cylinder version is still made in Germany and sold in first world countries as an outrageously expensive sports car. No other car design has had such a long and successful run.

      Reuther was a socialist and quasi-communist who enjoyed his time in the Soviet Union in the 30’s. He became a Democrat later when he became a part of the establishment, but he said once, I don’t have the quote, that his real cause was leftist politics and the union was secondary to that.

      • Vendikar says:

        The Porsche 911 is not a Type 1 Volkswagen in any significant way beyond the basic elements of its configuration. And for the last ten or fifteen years they have been in effect a wholly new design, with a flat six liquid cooled engine that shares little with the classic 911 engine. It is a very overpriced car in my opinion but people with money have little regard for my opinion.

        VW engines were cheap to overhaul when subsidized imported Brazilian and Mexican parts were available, but never much cheaper than it was to overhaul a small block Chevy. You can get a new SBC 350 “crate motor” right now for $1600 and I doubt you could build a Type 1 VW for that any more. My neighbor rebuilt his late sister’s Karmann Ghia for his daughter and he had $2100 in the engine, with not a lot of custom stuff.

  3. Jim says:

    The situation after the war was an unusual one that was bound to end in a fairly short time. At the end of the war countries like Germany, Japan, China, etc. were little more than bombed out rubble
    with populations living on the edge of starvation. The war destroyed most of the economic competition to the US. The after effects of the war lasted for some time but it was a mistake to take the postwar period as any kind of “normalcy”. The postwar era was a very exceptional time.

  4. mindweapon says:

    I grew up hating the gas guzzling cars and the stupid affection for them. I couldn’t understand people willingly blowing extra money on gas. They should have started making hybrid cars 50 years ago! We’d never have had to do any wars in the Middle East!

    Also, poor people have a horrible time being forced to own a private car while making McDonalds money. I remember Mitt Romney scoffing at the idea of bringing back railroads, saying, “I’m a car guy.” Well fuck you Mitt, poor people need mass transit you fucking piece of shit asshole! If you’re such a car guy then you better support a minimum fucking wage of 22 dollars an hour like Elizabeth Warren said.

    Mitt Romney wants people making 10 bucks an hour to be forced to work at least a full day a week just for their transportation, and sometimes more when expensive repairs come up. What a morally blind dickwad! Sorry for all the swearing but this stuff enrages me.

    Now they are going crazy with hybrids and electric cars. There’s a Lincoln hybrid that claims to get 45mpg! The Volt gets the equivalent of 150 miles to the gallon. But they should have done this 50 years ago. Heck, they should have never ripped out the trolley tracks. Kunstler is absolutely right about the fiasco of suburbia.

    • Vendikar says:

      McDonalds money would get you a pretty decent car and an apartment even as late as the mid-70s. My oldest broother was an assistant manager at a McDonalds and he bought a brand new Chrysler Cordoba the first year they were made. Contrary to popular belief, once you ripped all the emissions bullshit off them, rejetted the carb and recurved the distributor, they ran pretty well. I think he got 165,000 miles out of his before rust made it not worth fixing when it got ran into.

      Much of the alleged shittiness of American cars in “the malaise years” was really the effect of government emissions and safety regulation.

    • asdf says:

      Public transport is great, but only if you can keep the NAMs out. I used to ride the train into NYC and the “good” subway lines a lot. However, here in Baltimore we have a thing called the light rail that I still use but it goes through some bad black areas and lots of NAMs ride it, which has resulted in a fair bit of crime. Someone I know witnessed a brutal beating on the rail by NAMs.

      There are lots of things that are efficient to use only if you can trust most of the people using it. Nearly all public things turn to shit when you let NAMs in. Kind of like how Chick Fil A in white neighborhood leaves the special condiments out for anyone to take while in black neighborhoods you need to request them from the staff because they are kept behind the counter so NAMs won’t steal them. The lost efficiency of having people personally fetch your condiments each time is a deadweight loss to society (though it actually increases reported GDP, showing how useless that is) that results solely from the fact that NAMs are around. A similar version of this exists in nearly all NAM based stores (at target yesterday I need to track down a person to unlock the headphones, at CVS you need someone to unlock the razors or batteries).

      • Some cities lobby against light rail extension because they don’t want the diversity coming in. Mass transit is great in all-white areas, potentially great trouble in areas with significant NAMs. Mass transit allows street criminals to move quickly and anonymously to and from areas they want to commit crimes. A lot of street crime occurs at or near mass transit stations. In SWPL cities transit is pretty nice, but even in Portland you still have incidents.

      • mindweapon says:

        Great point, ASDF!

    • banned56 says:

      Utterly-pulled-out-of-my-bum-with-no-evidence-whatsoever-except-for-what-my-mom-told-me conspiracy theory: GM, Standard Oil and Firestone Tire were behind the lefty push for integration. Because they understood public trans was their competition, and competition is a sin as John Rockefeller of Standard Oil taught us, they realized that putting large numbers of blacks onto White areas’ trains / buses / trolleys would force Whites into buying cars and gasoline and tires to escape the resulting mayhem. AH, PROGRESS!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy

  5. Jim says:

    Black crime and racial integration were important drivers for the exodus to suburbia.

  6. Vendikar says:

    The VW was a 1930s design that persevered into the seventies in first world countries and into the late nineties in third world ones. Mexico finally quit making them around 2000 or so. Emissions regulations, build cost and the sheer obsoleteness of the design finally got it out of production.

    The VW was, in its salad days in America, not particularly cheap. You could get a A body Mopar or a Nova with a base engine and automatic or three speed manual for less money all through the sixties. The car had some known flaws all through its years of production they never did fix and unless you did all your own maintenance it was quite expensive to operate. My father made a pretty decent living as a foreign car mechanic in those days but he always drove an American car to work.

    Contrary to belief, it was not a cheap car to make, they used good materials and it was somewhat labor intensive as compared to Detroit cars. It’s a very interesting fact that the Mexican Beetles were, in effect, 1966 German Beetles all the way to the end: they never went to independent rear suspension, a major improvement.

    The safety of the Beetle as compared to modern cars can be looked at in several ways, but another very interesting datum is the case of famed electronic engineer Robert A. Pease. Pease was a senior scientist for National Semiconductor in Silicon Valley who famously drove a late sixties VW Beetle as his daily transportation. He also wrote a book on automobile safety, How to Drive Into Accidents … and How Not To (1998). Pease was killed in a crash in his faithful Beetle, ironically, while leaving a memorial service for another electronic engineering guru, Jim Williams. The accident was one in which had he had any modern car he would have walked out of.

  7. robertpinkerton says:

    In my crazed opinion, the very best car I ever drove, was a 1984 D I E S E L</i? VW Rabbit. I had the last three years of its eighteen year life. When I had it hauled, engine and drive-train were still sound; only budy rust had progressed to the degree that the car was no longer safe.

    I “cut my teeth” on VWs, and if I had to drive now (Retired, thank the Gods, in a city with decent public transportation), I would still want one — but not the posatmodern impostor with the ever-damnable automatic transmission.

  8. robertpinkerton says:

    What the hell is wrong with WordPress formatting? I followed the instructions and got the above.

  9. fnn says:

    What happened to auto also happened to steel, machine tools and most high value manufacturing in general. The whole US industrial heartland went down the crapper.

    The destruction of the industrial white working class is a potentially fascinating topic. IIRC, the iconic figure of Archie Bunker was a factory worker before he became an entrepreneur late in life.
    If they were to revive Bunker for the present era he would have to be a municipal worker or maybe a Davis-Bacon union construction worker to be credible

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