Autoworkers, Bankers Have a Lot in Common

Exorbitant pay of both brought down their respective industries
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2009 9:11 AM CST
In a photo provided by the Ford Motor Co., the Wixom Assembly Plant line with a Thunderbird, foreground, and a Lincoln is shown in a 1960 photo.   (AP Photo/Ford Motor Co)
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(Newser) – They may not seem all that similar, but Detroit’s autoworkers and Wall Street’s bankers have the same story, writes Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post. From the 1950s up until, say, yesterday, "autoworkers were the aristocrats of the blue-collar world, (and) Wall Street traders and investment bankers were the aristocrats of the white-collar world." Each earned pay well above everyone else at their education level, and came to view that as a right.

To maintain that high pay, Detroit peddled inferior cars, while Wall Street took advantage of its customers, and eventually, both brought themselves to the point of total collapse. “What did in Citigroup was the same thing that did in General Motors—an arrogant and insular business culture that failed to put the customer first, failed to rein in employee pay, an failed to make the difficult decisions.”