Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Big Three in Big Trouble

The American car makers are in BIG TROUBLE. I used to drive a Ford. I loved my Festiva. It had 305k miles on it when I traded it in. I'm the sort of person that ought to be the target for the American car makers. I drive a Honda and will not drive anything else. They lost me and a whole lot of folks like me by making cars that were not as good as the Japanese imports and were not as appropriate for the times.

Now the Republicans are barking mad about bailing out the auto companies that are in trouble for having produced nothing but massive SUVs as gas went up to $4/gallon. Of course, not everyone wanted them to make those cars. Some folks were trying to raise the mileage requirement, trying to get Detroit to produce gas/electric hybrids, and smaller vehicles in general. But they refused and at every turn, who was supporting them legislatively in this arguing that it was American to drive a big truck, that we don't punish the successful, that it is virtuous, but not the government's business to conserve energy? The very same people who are now blaming the car companies for mismanagement and refusing to give them help are the ones who were enabling them. Of course, there were Democrats on board too, Rep. Dingell for example.

Now, we've got calls from the Democrats to help bail them out because if they go under, along go LOTS of jobs directly and indirectly, like parts manufacturers, and with things already teetering will take a major shock. What's good for General Motors, it used to be said, was good for America. But there are strings attached. You don't give the junkie money to pay off his debts without sending him for treatment at the same time. There are calls for accountability and federal oversight. The government wants to be able to look over the shoulders of major corporations while they make decisions. The conservative fears are being realized, it is creeping socialism. In fact, the new GM models are going to be marketed as CHE-vrolets.

Are the bailouts really necessary? Is government oversight and conditions on what they choose to bring to market acceptable? necessary?