Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Auto bailout

I've been listening to the discussion if money with the financial bailout should be used to help the ailing auto industry, namely giving the Big Three (GM, Chrysler and Ford) money to restructure their companies and be more competitive with the Japanese company, some of whom operate production and assembly plants in the US.

Ok, I'm obviously not an economist, or more so, an automotive economist to have any real idea about the best solution here, but some things do cross my mind which I hear from some representatives in Congress who plans to attach caveats to any loan to the auto companies. And I thoroughly agree because in all the bailout talks, most of those in Congress and the Bush administration are failing to consider the obvious, the American people.

If the American people don't have jobs, affordable mortages, good healthcare plans, and reasonable taxes, then all the bailout of the financial industry is moot. They'll still be rich and we'll still be poor. And if the auto companies do get a bailout, as they say, the devil is in the details, but to me there should be some guarrantees.

No bailout, ie loan, should not eviscerate any of the current labor contracts with the unions and workers.

No bailout should not allow any of the companies to jettison their employee health insurance packages.

No bailout should not allow the companies to transfer their retirement packages to the federal government program.

This means a bailout would be to help the company stay in business and focus on new cars and not simply find ways to enrich the company, the executives and the shareholders. They shouldn't take any money then move production out of the country. It's our money, and they owe use some guarrantees as to its use.

The same applies if any of them decide to go into bankruptcy, which is the way they want to jettison all of the three above things. They're after finding ways to lower labor costs, but in doing so will cost the workers, Americans, an affordable job and life. Is this not what America is about. It's about keeping Americans working with good jobs with decent benefits. It's about keeping affordable retirements.

Otherwise, Congress should simply turn a blind eye and deaf ear to their pleas for financial help. The companies drove themselves into this space, they can drive their way out without our help. If they want that but don't want the caveats, then fine, go to bankruptcy court and let everyone fight it out, and see how far you go and how many customers you have and get.

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