As the Detroit auto executives do their best James Brown imitation to Congress, it seems that everyone has an opinion about whether Congress should bail out the Big 3 or not.
Now first, I have a true confession: I have owned only one A-merry-can made car in my entire life. But still, that doesn't mean that I don't understand the importance and the significance of the A-merry-can auto industry. And before you start with me, don't even bother; I know that I am a hypocrite, and that I helped to contribute to the demise of the auto industry, so I should be one of the last people advocating for it.
But how can you blame me? I have mad love for Michigan. My first experience with A-merry-ca was as a very young child in East Lansing. I was there with my family while my father attended school and finished up his graduate studies. Michigan was where I first experienced snow, where I first forged friendships with people of other races, and where I was first introduced to A-merry-can games such as football and baseball (to this day the Detroit Tigers is my favorite baseball team). The first car I ever drove was my father's Cutlass by Oldsmobile. (I think they made them in Lansing) So it hurts to watch Michigan die a slow economic death as the auto industry struggles to survive. It hurts to watch rethugs demagogue this issue and try to score political points with their base while auto workers face the prospects of losing their jobs and their way of life. (Whatever happened to helping Main Street and not Wall Street?)
Now look, I know this is a tough call for some people. (Not rethugs, they are going to be against the working man no matter what)The executives at these companies have done a less than stellar job for the past 40 years. They have been slow to adjust to change, and their business model has not exactly been one that we could hold up as a shining example for our B school students all over the country. Flying to Washington in private jets was just plain stupid, and it shows just how out of touch they are. But Jim Press, VP of Chrysler, is right when he says that an auto failure could "trigger a depression" because of the "fragile nature of the economy". To ignore that fact would be just foolhardy. Come on field what's wrong with letting them go bankrupt and file for Chapter 11? They could finally try to be more innovative and restructure some of those UAW contracts. Let them go the way of Studebaker, Packard,Hudson and Nash; it's capitalism at work, make a better product and we will buy it. That's a fair point, and I would almost buy it. Almost. But there is just too much at stake with these companies. They employee far too many people who could lose their jobs. Way too many service industries who rely on them could go under, and the domino effect it would create could be devastating. Homes would be lost, tax bases would dry up, and entire communities would become extinct. It would be devastating to the state of Michigan and cities such as Detroit, Lansing, Saginaw, and Flint. And it could be devastating to you. I don't care where you live.
But do the rethugs care? Of course not. The Bogey Man to them in all of this is the UAW, and they want to teach them a lesson. After all, don't all the car manufacturers down South (where there are no union shops) do just fine? Why can't the Big 3 eliminate these UAW folks and start paying their workers closer to what the average Chinese and Indian worker gets? I will answer that: Because they aren't down South, and because they have kids in college and mortgages to pay. And because most of these people with there so called high wages support communities by spending where they live, that's why.
"For decades, Republicans have supported corporate efforts to earn profits without accountability to working Americans. Profits and bonuses rose before the decline, often by eliminating domestic production — and jobs — while switching operations overseas.
Yet when some of our biggest domestic employers need help — employers that actually produce something tangible, unlike Wall Street — Republicans choose to preach rather than do something constructive. Their actions betray American workers and sabotage an already fragile economy.
Yes, the automakers have a lot to learn, but surely not at the expense of our economic viability. It is almost inconceivable that Republicans would risk destroying some of the nation’s few remaining manufacturing giants just to teach the unions a lesson. "
~Barry Moskowitz, Opinion letter in the New York Times~~
Well said Barry, let's hope that there are some rethugs who stop watching FOX long enough to actually read the "Times".
So what do we do? We give the Big 3 the money with some strings attached. We demand accountability and we damn near Nationalize all three of those companies. (Field, you are such a Socialist. I know. But think about it. If there was a National Health Care Plan we wouldn't even be having this discussion, because the Big 3 wouldn't even have to worry about paying billions in health benefits to their employees) The Management culture has to change at these companies as well, and they have to rethink how they do business. (Design a car that the field might want to drive damn it!) And I am with the O man on this one; they have got to go green. In fact, some of the money we give them should be earmarked for environmental outcomes. And they have to do a better job of marketing their cars. They have to create better incentives to buy, and come up with more creative ways of financing the product. If people don't start going to the Big 3 show rooms we will be right back in this position in the very near future.
So that is my two cents. I am with Ben Stein of all people on this one. Let's bail out those suckers. Let's help the people of Michigan like we did the people of New York City. They deserve that much. Besides, I am sick of hearing these auto executives beg.