When the right points out that Detroit's union contracts are making it difficult to return to profitability, the left generally responds that the problem lies not with our unions, but with our stars . . . why cannot they be more like Toyota?

Toyota seems to be asking that question of itself: its profits are sharply down. You'd think that oil spikes would be a license to print money, but the US is one of its biggest markets, and the dollar decline is hurting them badly.

This is obviously not Detroit bad--but it's very odd to see Ford's earnings rising while Toyota's fall. Toyota's US plants are also getting older, and with them, their workforce--the same problem that has dogged Detroit. Toyota doesn't operate under the same labor constraints as the Big Three, but my understanding is that it has a different constraint: laying off older workers would trigger a hell of a backlash against their product.