On a small bulletin board in my office I have posted a full page ad from a magazine. The photo captures a smartly dressed man, briefcase in tow, standing on a busy street in a downtown area.
He holds up a sign much like a protester or a street preacher might placard about.
The message on his sign is bold, simple and right to the point:
"Collaborate or DIE"
Ironic, don't you think? At a time when radical individualism enjoys what may be an unsurpassed heyday in our culture, the prophets of the world of profit call us to rethink how we are living.
The message made its way to every major front page in the nation last Wednesday with General Motors' grim announcement that it would phase out 25,000 jobs by the end of 2008. Many of these jobs will involve retirement. Still, the point is they will not be replaced as GM seeks to stabilize its core business.
Interesting that one of the challenges GM faces and that drives their decision on workforce reduction is the increasing costs associated with health insurance for its employees. GM spends approximately $1,500 per auto unit produced on health care costs for its workforce.
The layoff represents about 22% of the auto makers hourly workforce.
The nation needs GM to survive. GM provides health insurance coverage to 1.1 million Americans and is the nation's largest private sector provider.
We are arriving at a moment in our national life when large corporations like GM will likely begin to ask why we haven't made more progress on establishing a national health insurance plan like every other industrialized nation in the world.
With jobs being outsourced daily across the country and the costs of health insurance and health care escalating rapidly, it is clear new approaches must be formulated and put into place.
The economic forces affecting American business interests obviously impact low-income residents of our inner cities.
We need to find a new way.
Collaboration comes to mind.
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