Friday, December 12, 2008

Shut Up and Bail

I think that the American public deserves to know why it is that Wall Street can receive, without questions or requirements (merely suggestions), billions of taxpayer dollars, and the U.S. auto industry is having to go through hoops like a broke person trying to get credit. I also think that each of the GOP Senators who supported the Wall Street bailout need to explain their lack of support for the auto industry.

Most folks from the South know that "unions" are supposed to be seen as bad things, and many (primarily white) Southern politicians pride themselves on being against them. Sometimes I wonder if just the name "Union" conjures up memories of the "Lost Cause." But for a region that is allegedly more proud of being "American" than any other, I find it rather interesting that its representatives in Washington are arguing for the reduction of American wages, as well as stronger support for FOREIGN car companies (see here and here).

I have nothing against foreign car companies, and I do think that they have had better products to offer Americans in the recent past. However, that does not mean that we need to watch the destruction of an industry that is 100% ours. The car was the American product. The auto industry was essentially one of the reasons that people were able to earn a middle class living without having a college degree. Do we really want to let the GOP kill the industry on our watch, especially when it doesn't have to die. This is the time for the American auto industry to re-assert its authority and develop products that are environmentally friendly, aesthetically appealing, and reasonably affordable. The very creators of the industry, at the very least, deserve that chance. The southern wing of the GOP be damned.

UPDATE: Here is a really interesting article regarding the perspective of president of the United Auto Workers, Ron Gettelfinger from "The Raw Story."


Fiona said...

Interesting points.

And on a completely un-related topic, did Miriam forward you an email from me? I sent her a link for you and forgot to ask her if she got it. Our email...doesn't always go through.

hscfree said...

I got it, and I am going to go for it.

Fiona said...

Excellent. Would be perfect for vous.

Anonymous said...

Well, they got their money. A couple short thoughts on the difference between the financial industry and the auto industry.

1) Sequencing. People are getting bailout fatigue. Not fair, but true. The further back in the line, the harder to get relief.

2) Politics. Money for the Big 3 means money for the unions. The financial industry spreads their support around, but the unions have one target—Republicans. Why should Republicans lift a finger to help a group of people that will turn around and try to defeat them? By the way, walk down 16th St past the union headquarters and notice how nice the buildings are, and how the unions have even upgraded the SIDEWALKS in front of the buildings to brick from cement.

3) Quality. Everyone thinks they understand the auto industry since they drive a car (present company excluded). I don’t think this is fair, since I’m sure there are aspects to the industry that I don’t understand. But how many people our age drive an American car? When I rent a car, the only time I drive American, It just feels badly made, compared to my Japanese car. The plastic is cheap, the door rattles, etc. Their problem isn’t financing, its quality.

Two final thoughts.

One, it is hard to tell what is American and what is not. Are cars built in America, by Americans, but for foreign car companies, less American than cars made by Detroit built in Mexico, by Mexicans?

Two, most folks agree that the financial industry is not just another industry, but the backbone of the economy. It is the necessary component that allows all the other industries to function. I don’t like the bailouts of Wall Street, its frustrating and embarrassing, but it is qualitatively different than bailing out the auto industry, or the airline industry, etc.