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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Oh, Canada!

Toyota is building a new factory in Ontario, rejecting the bids of several U.S. states:
The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs.

Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.

He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.

"The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.
I taught Algebra in a private high school in Alabama for one year. The level of dedication to educational excellence, on the part of students and faculty alike, ranged from abysmal to non-existent. The attitude extended all the way through grad school. I signed up for an econ course that was part of an MBA program at Auburn University at Montgomery. At one point, the professor wrote "10x=100" on the board, and then wrote "x=10" below. About half the students in the class raised their hands, demanding to know how he did that. And a lot of them were real whiners after tests, too: "I thought it was going to be just about general concepts, not specifics." And this was an easy, easy course. These are your red-state voters.

There was another reason Toyota chose Canada:
In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.

"Most people don't think of our health-care system as being a competitive advantage," he said.
Actually, Toyota joins the CEO's of GM and Ford in noting the competitive advantage that universal health care offers to business.

Xymphora has more on the Toyota plant, American education, and the sorry state of the American dream in general.