November 18, 2008

The Automakers and Their Kin

When I was a child and wanted some new item of clothing or bauble, I would tell my parents that "everybody's doing it." This never did go over well, and I never did receive my pair of white plastic go-go boots from K-Mart (rumor has it they leaked like a sieve). Well, today "everybody is doing it" and that is, everybody is doing a blog. So I'm jumping off the deep end of my poor white trash above-ground pool of literary delight and here I am, fifty-one years old, warts and all.

I like to PONTIFICATE so this will be my new forum.

Today's topic is the automakers. I was distressed to hear how discouraged the regular band of pundits were this evening. Ben Stein actually freaked me out. Of course he's a free-market conservative who hangs around with some liberal folks, but he was absolutely pushing a full bailout and speaking doom and gloom if it does not happen.

I have flip-flopping views on this issue. The party is over for the Big Brass of Detroit who have known since 1973 that they had better learn to make cars run on sweet tea because sweet petrol was getting expensive and controlled out of the Straits of Hormuth et al. Lee Iacocca and Roger Smith and all those happy folks got a bailout in 1980 from Ronald Reagan and here we are eighteen years later with very few fuel efficient cars. Well, we have the Tesla, built by the geniuses of Silicon Valley, and if you are lucky you can get one of the roadsters they have manufactured for six figures. But it does run on electricity.

That's the first argument. And then on the very big flip side of that coin are the workers. If our Big Three automakers go belly-up they take with them millions of hard working middle income people who will then go on unemployment, stop paying into Social Security and Medicare, stop buying goods and services except what they have to have, and really hard times could come about.

I keep hearing shouts between the FREE MARKET idealogues who say LET THEM FAIL and the DEFENDERS OF AMERICA AS THE WORLD CENTER OF MANUFACTURING (economist Tom Friedman on Meet the Press yesterday.) Has the day of America leading the world in manufacturing finished?

Can their be some controls or at least regulated expectations on what this money, the bridge loan, to the auto industry will do. How crazy is it to give seven hundred billion to Wall Street and barely give a glance to the automakers? And yet they've known about this for more than thirty years.

What do you think?
I'm getting in my little Honda and going home. Quoth the raven.