Monday, November 17, 2008

Point of Contention: Different Standards for an Automaker Bailout

In September when the stock market crashed and millions were left, jaws agape, to pick up the pieces of their broken investments, Wall Street flaunted its power. The big wigs went to Capitol Hill and demanded help. We branded them villains but, in the end, allowed the villains to continue. In fact, we were even told that the only people who could get us out of this mess were the very same people who got us into it in the first place.

Washington joined its constituents in crying foul, and the world watched as certain banks and brokerage firms fell victim to the inevitable downsizing. We felt less than sympathetic for the broken CEO who carried on so well for the past eight years, as right we should. But instead of doing something about it, we just flushed money into the system to try and take the pain away and watched as those who broke the system profited from its demise.

But now, even the Democrats are taking turns vilifying the auto industry for their missteps along the way and asking them, as part of any bailout, to get out. I'd like to think that the reason for this is that we've learned our lesson when it comes to who we trust, but I know better. The real reason for this change of heart is that instead of dealing with bankers and brokers, we're dealing with unions and line workers, and, frankly, the latter group doesn't hold as much power as they should.

It's amazing to me that we're spending so much time fighting over $25 billion to automakers when we essentially have given a blank check to bankers and brokers of all people to run amuck without any controls. Could it be a little class warfare that's playing into this?

Sure GM, Ford and Chrysler need to shape up. And I think that the leaders of those companies need to hit the road as well. But the insistence that is running crazy-like through D.C. today against the automakers is in stark contrast to the "doing what we have to do to save the banks" attitude that Washington took last month. It's as if D.C. has gone off its meds and is looking at the world much more cynically now, and instead of quesitoning the people they should be questioning, they are holding the latest victim accountable.

The fact is that a large part of the reason the automakers are in a bind is because people are not buying cars. People cannot buy cars because they can't get credit. Sure an auto bailout has its problems, but there are solutions to those problems. Meanwhile, it's the banks who got a free ride last month who caused this credit crunch on the everyday American in the first place. There are other factors that need to be addressed, but nothing will happen if the auto industry fails while we're bickering about this.

So when D.C. has gone postal on the Big 3, the big Banks have walked out the back door to the Oceans 11 music, smiling the whole way. And the automakers are being left to wither in the wind, with millions of workers' lives hanging in the balance.

Seems that the government socialism is only applicable to those who already have the means to help themselves.



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