Saturday, November 15, 2008

If you think it's bad now...

I am utterly flummoxed. Should Congress step in to save the auto industry or should it not? If nothing is done, the damage to the economy will be (digging for an adequate analogy) thermonuclear. The jobless rate will soar on wings of song and people will flee to New Orleans to escape Detroit. The collapse could well send a recession into depression - and the world with it.

So, why is congress (in the equivalent of a Volkswagen Beetle convertible) playing chicken with an 18 wheel logging truck going downhill with the wind at its back and a full load? My personal, though unfounded guess, is that both the Democrats & the Republicans have ideological axes to grind. There are probably left leaning Democrats who would be all too happy to see the auto industry get its just deserts. The industry insisted on subverting, at every turn, any and all efforts to create more fuel efficient cars. At every turn, the auto industry chose short term profit (read greed) over prudent investment in future technologies. I'm sure, to many "green" Democrats, it's payback time. The auto industry, after all, has been one of *THE* major lobbying impediments to greener, less polluting technologies. The industry has single handedly compromised our nation's security by making us keenly dependent on foreign oil.

Then there are the right leaning Republicans. They have an ax to grind too. No lobbying group has been more of a thorn in their side than the UAW and no industry has provided a greater base of support to the unions than the auto worker. The unions are anathema to everything a free market, authoritarian conservative stands for. I have a hunch that many conservatives would *love* to see the auto industry forced into bankruptcy. Bankruptcy, and only bankruptcy, would finally permit the auto industry to sever its ties to the unions, as well as any financial obligations. All and any union contracts would be, effectively, null and void. The steely grip of the unions would be broken. Who would the unionists blame? The auto industry? Maybe Republicans? But who cares, most of them didn't vote Republican anyway.

The President of the United Auto Workers, Ron Gettelfinger, "said Saturday that the problem is not the union's contract with the automakers and that getting the automakers back on their feet means figuring out a way to turn around the slumping economy."

Says he: "The focus has to be on the economy as a whole as opposed to a UAW contract..."

This sounds like the statement of a man in denial. These are the words of a man who smells blood in the wind - his own blood. He knows better than anyone that if the auto industry declares bankruptcy, all bets are off. How does one strike against a company that no longer exists? The safest statement is the one he made. It's the economy, says he.

He could blame the auto industry, but the union's have been just as complicit in fighting fuel efficiency standards. They are just as complicit in a failure of foresight. Yet another reason for *both* Democrats and Republicans to sharpen their knives: Democrats because of the union's obstructionism, Republicans because of the union's obstruction of the free market.

Meanwhile, who loves the US auto industry? They have made stupid decisions, dismal cars and have profited mightily at the expense of *everyone*.

Still, nub of nubs, if we let them fail -- 1929 might start looking *really* good.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

I'll add a comment just to add one, though my opinion isn't worth much. I think it must be done to avoid a catastrophic problem. Even if our second rate auto industry must survive second rate, it must survive for now.

If people would have listened to those wacko liberals, we would have tackled this long ago. But thanks to people like thrush limblow bellowing out hatred day in and day out to anyone who cares about green energy and the environment, an excuse was always found to ignore the problem.

I support a manhattan style project to make new engines and batteries. But because of the economic crisis, that doesn't seem presently feasible.