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The Tragedy of GM Closing

September 06, 1992

Walking through the General Motors plant in Van Nuys, one is reminded of the glory days of the late 1940s and early '50s in Los Angeles and the Valley--days of growth and hope. Workers looked to the future to buy a house and raise a family. The wheels of industry drove our economy to create a Southern California lifestyle unprecedented.

But a closer look reveals despair in the eyes of the workers. One can see broken panes of glass that will never be repaired, damaged floors that will never be mended, and timeworn walls that will never again see paint. This giant factory that has provided food, shelter and life to so many, for so long, is now laid to rest.

Why does this have to be? Because, in the 1960s, while the plant was still an adolescent, the enterprise was set upon by those who see employers and businesses as their enemies. During the last 25 years General Motors, along with Lockheed and scores of other California businesses, has been carved up by governmental regulators, lawyers, anti-business legislators and self-appointed community demagogues.

The same kind of labor troubles that buried the Herald-Examiner (how soon we forget) played a major part in destroying the viability of GM in Van Nuys.

You can't blame General Motors. As a functional member of the free market system, the company is duty-bound to be as successful as possible. When the business climate becomes too hostile in one place, you must, regrettably, move to another. You really can't blame the workers either, as they have the right to try to earn as much as possible.

We must turn our rage on the legislators who for decades have seen employers in this state as "fatted calves," ripe for the slaughter. We have to realize that without employers we can have no employees. As workers, citizens and voters we have to support the businesses that support our economy.

GM Van Nuys is stilled forever. But the ship of state will sail on, overtaxing, overspending and over-regulating, until we do something about it.

ROBERT L. SCOTT, Scott wrote as president of the United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley

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