To Bail, Or Not Bail Out The Big Three
By now, everyone in America has heard about the bailout that the big three car companies have been begging for. There are people on both sides of the fence on this one, but the overwhelming majority of people in this country, at least according to CNN, feel that the government should let the car companies fail of their own accord.
I’m sure this surprises no one except the top auto executives, who showed how removed they are from the regular car buyer by flying in their own corporate jets to Washington, even though I personally had no problem with it. If your company has a private jet, so be it; I probably wouldn’t have apologized for it if I’d done it. Think about it this way; was it better that these guys were working until the last minute and then hopped on a plane to go take care of business, or that they spent many hours in a car, driving all the way to Washington, doing no business but putting up a facade in front of the world?
Anyway, I can understand how people would be against saving the car companies. For decades these folks have been giving us what they felt we needed, not what anyone really wanted, including more fuel efficient cars. While cars from other countries, even if they were built in the United States, were giving us cars that not only got better gas mileage and had better long term service plans, but didn’t lose one shred of horsepower, American cars got bigger, heavier, less gas efficient, and seemed to breakdown every 25,000 miles or so, just to have a reason to have to take them in for service so we could get pitched to buy a new car instead of fixing the one we had.
After we get past the emotional “goodness” of our souls, we as Americans have to come back to reality. We all know that, in the long run, we like the idea of having American made cars by American dealers. We like the idea that, somewhere deep down inside, Americans will make better cars than anyone else in the world. Sure, we may deviate here and there every once in awhile, but American pride always comes to the surface eventually.
Does anyone remember that the federal government has actually bailed out an auto manufacturer before? Ever hear of Lee Iacocca, a hero to many in this country, who requested and got a major bailout in the early 80’s? Chrysler made a drastic turnaround, Iacocca became a hero by accepting only a dollar a year in compensation, while most of the top executives took big pay cuts. Later Iacocca wrote a book that became a best seller, and he retired from Chrysler and started hawking something called Olivio; don’t ask.
So, we do have a history already of doing this very thing. And, oddly enough, there’s one more reason that seems to make it important to at least consider doing this thing. Over the last couple of days, Congress seems to be more willing to step in and get a deal done, and suddenly the stock market is showing some signs of life. It’s an amazing symbiosis that looks like the relationship between humpbacked whales and krill. Our economy is suffering, and everyone is looking for some kind of boost, anything that gives hope to the rest of the economy. If the government does bail out the car companies, and appoints what’s right now being called a “car czar”, not only might it spark Wall Street to finally start being more positive, but it will save thousands of jobs across the country that our economy really can’t absorb right now on the unemployment rolls.
To me, a big part of this is a no-brainer. Car companies need to be bailed out by Washington. Now, do all of them need to be bailed out? That’s a different story. What I’d like to see is a bailout plan that’s accompanied by a government audit of every American car company that’s looking for a bailout, and, for once, I agree with the Bush Administration on something, that being that there’s no point in bailing out a car company that’s going to go down the tubes anyway. There might have to be another merger like Chrysler and Dodge, or like GM itself, which is really just a conglomeration of multiple car companies that decided to gather under one name.
Sometimes, one has to help symbols of a country’s culture just because they’re too big to ignore. How many more American companies are we going to let go by the wayside, until there’s not a single American company left that actually produces anything in this country? I say this is a good thing; I’m glad Congress is finally coming around. Of course, many of you may think differently on this one; that’s okay, go ahead and state your case. From where I sit, saving the big three is the way to go.