Why not bail out the car companies?

Let me see if I understand this “bailing out the car companies” problem.

First, full disclosure. I have never owned an American made car. I have driven them in the hopes that I would buy American. But why buy a car with drum brakes, leaf springs, skinny steering wheel, torque steer, column mounted three speed transmission, short lived seats, sagging rocker panels and lousy gas mileage. My current ride is a 2003 VW Passat wagon with 96,000 miles on it. It’s been trouble free, gets over 30 mph on the freeway and over 25 mph in the city. It has some cosmetic damage, but basically still looks new.

The “Big 3,” along with the businesses associated with them, employ one out of ten American workers. They provide their workers with health insurance and retirement plans. They are the second largest contributor to the consumer economy, after housing. For years they have built the cars and trucks Americans wanted to buy. Sure, there was the environmental fringe complaining about the CAFE standards, but it was effectively marginalized by our government.

Now the same people who protected them have turned against them. The people who wrote the laws favoring SUV’s and pickup trucks are now castigating their builders for lack of foresight. Now, with the recession putting the brakes on car sales, the “Big 3” are the bad guys who deserve to fail. How soon do we find scapegoats.

If they go broke, we add 10% to the unemployment rate. All those families lose their health insurance. Who knows what happens to their retirements? A 25 or 38 or 47 billion dollar loan would keep that part of the economy available for when money starts flowing again.

The “financial system,” however, deserves 7 trillion dollars, no strings attached. These are the folks whose contribution to American productivity was to guarantee each other’s incomes. Instead of using their money to provide health insurance to several million people, they put it behind screens and “poof,” it’s gone. If they lose their jobs, they will move to their chateaux on the French Riviera.

Hank Paulson can give $20 billion to Goldman Sachs or whoever during a weekend and nobody makes a peep. The Democratic congress has to spend hours raking auto executives over the coals before telling them to come back with a plan to – do what the environmental fringe has been talking about for years.

This makes no sense.


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