Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Auto Bailouts

So the Big Three—those “walking dead men” called US Auto Makers—are soon to arrive in Washington, this time via automobile. What a concept—AutoMakers driving to a meeting, at which they are begging for gold.
As I best understand it, their begging bowls keep getting larger (images of Pinocchio and his growing nose keep springing to mind). They now want something closer to $40 Billion—hmmm, pretty soon they’ll be talking real money. GM will cut costs by dumping dealers, and eliminating lines—like Pontiac and Saturn (Hummer anyone?). Ford and Chrysler have similar ideas, although Chrysler seems closer to going over the cliff regardless of what they do. I guess the last Chrysler bailout (remember Lee Iaccoca?) didn’t work too well.
While nobody really wants the US automakers to disappear( well, not completely true—there’s always Toyota, et al) the whole thing leaves me kind of breathless. They go on for years, decades really, making cars that are demonstrably inferior to the competition, and now come hat in hand because they can’t survive the competition. Yes, the global recession is hurting them, but how come Toyota, Honda, et al are not facing bankruptcy?
It is reasonable to argue that the auto makers are no more to blame for their woes than our bankers and other financial thugs. True enough, and I’m still awaiting an explanation of why that suggestion that we dump AIG and send the money instead directly to the American people (checks for $400,000 each was suggested) isn’t an inherently better investment than giving the money to AIG.
Still, I guess our financial betters know more than we do about such things (oh wait, they don’t know more, do they?).
Well, I’m going to stay tuned for this fascinating debate about whether and how much money we will print, or borrow from the Chinese, to keep our auto industry afloat.
Still, I really could use that $400,000 guys . . .
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