AFP reports that General Motors is investing $150 million on a West Java, Indonesia plant. The move is expected to create 800 jobs in the region. GM has about $20 billion left as cash and cash equivalents after having received about $50 billion from taxpayers a little over two years ago. While taxpayers may have reason to be unhappy about the investment overseas, at least GM is making a move that seems not to be based on politics.
The plant in Indonesia is reported to have a capacity to build 40,000 units per year. Sales of GM vehicles in Indonesia last year were 4,500 units. The math would point to a plan to export vehicles from the region. This strategy seems to be in conflict with the politically driven news out of GM that trumpets US manufacturing growth and job creation.
For those that might think that GM may be steering away from politically driven goals, think again. Vindy.com, a local news site for the Youngstown Ohio area, reports that GM and the GM Foundation have contributed more than $10 million for a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial that will be unveiled on August 28th. Chevy has been boasting of the GM/GM Foundation contribution to the memorial in TV ads that were created by SpikeDDB. According to the Vindy.com piece, Spike DDB is Chevy’s “African-American advertising agency of record.”
Whether MLK is worthy of such a memorial or not, GM should not be funding it while its share price is plummeting, and when taxpayers still hold a large investment stake. And if having an “African American advertising agency of record” means GM is setting aside business based on race, that’s a practice to which many taxpayers would object.
Corporations that have been bailed out with billions of dollars of taxpayer funds should have a primary focus of returning taxpayer money as opposed to doing the political bidding of the governing parties that orchestrated the bail out. If overseas investments like GM’s Indonesia plant are driven by economics, I will gladly take that over politically motivated spending on monuments or money-losing green vehicles like the Chevy Volt.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.