In the news today: the Toyota USA Foundation has given over $317,000 to promote environmental literacy in U.S. schools. It's part of the foundation's $100 million charity to support education programs in the United States.
Thus begins my rant for the day: people who object to import automakers because "they send all that money back to Japan."
I just got back from a tour of Subaru's plant in Lafayette, Indiana, where it builds the Legacy, Outback, Tribeca and the Toyota Camry. The company president was obviously from Japan, but the hundreds of workers I saw weren't. They all looked like local, corn-fed Indiana men and women. At quitting time, they all went out to their vehicles -- overwhelmingly Chevrolet trucks, by the way. I'm guessing they bought them locally, with their Subaru wages. And they were probably going home, to houses paid for with money they'd received by working at the factory. Maybe they'd stop on the way to buy some things, with cash from their pay, too.
Last week, I drove down Ontario's Highway 401, past the huge new Toyota plant that's being built in Woodstock. I'm guessing most of the construction workers I saw were not imported from Japan. I'm also guessing the truckloads of construction material didn't come from overseas. And I seriously doubt that the workforce that finally ends up on the assembly lines will come exclusively from the land of the rising sun, either. That Toyota plant will pay Canadian wages, support local Canadian businesses and pay Canadian taxes. And I'm also guessing that the almost inconceivable mountain of money it took to build this enormous plant came from Toyota's sales in Canada. Hell, maybe some of that money came out of Japan.
The fact is, whenever I look at auto plants, they're shovelling money back into the economy. They're hiring local workers, getting stuff from local suppliers, and writing contracts with local companies to supply everything from construction equipment to the toilet paper in the bathrooms and the food in the cafeteria. And it doesn't matter what nameplate is over the door.
Hate the import automakers if you want. In fact, I think it's healthy to support home-grown Canadian industry.
Just don't hide behind this "they send all their money back to Japan" crap.
And for that matter, when you give your hard-earned Canadian money to GM and Ford and Chrysler, don't forget to repeat your favorite line. Because according to that logic, they're just shipping it straight to their head offices in Michigan -- sending your money back to a foreign country.