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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's good for General Motors...

The auto makers met Congress yesterday and it's hard to figure out which institution is in greater disrepute.

Once upon a time "Engine" Charlie Wilson, a General Motors boss allegedly proclaimed "What's good for General Motors is good for the country" (actually it was somewhat reversed but you know how these things works).

And Lee Iacocca (I Am Chrysler Corporation of America) made his fame -- and company's fortune -- by successfully lobbying an earlier Congress for a bailout.

Yesterday, the bosses of GM, Ford and Chrysler sat before Congress with outstretched hands, looking for a piece of the cash being shoved out the Treasury hand over fist. Congress shows no inclination to go that way again.

Of course, neither does Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, which may be the best thing the automakers have going for them.

It's hard to understand the importance of the auto industry around here -- the last GM plant in Framingham packed up and left decades ago. I've driven a Toyota for years, after the Dodge I once owned taught me all sorts of nasty things about freeze plugs and I could get stuff out of the truck through the rot on the side.

But the automakers are obviously important to Michigan -- heck the whole industry is named after its largest city. And while the Detroit bosses have made some rotten decisions over the years, so have our "leaders."

I can't help but wonder if the current mess would be marginally less so if Paulson and friends had decided not to single out Lehman Brothers for failure while allowing AIG to feast on taxpayer largess.

But I also can't see a federal auto bailout without someone, finally, asking for something in return.

Detroit has made gas guzzlers for years -- and spent millions upon millions lobbying Washington not to raise fuel efficiency standards. Today they have fleets of unsold oversize SUVs and disastrous financial results.

Those decisions are related -- which means change in the way of doing business should be the price of the bailout. And a clean sweep of the executives that presided over those disastrous policies.

But the auto industry employs millions of people and they should not be cast adrift. And that's exactly what would happen if we told the auto industry to stick it. The executives with the golden parachutes would be fine. The folks who made the cars and the parts would not.

We've already spent billions bailing out the "masters of the universe" who engineered financial fraud. We ought to be able to save autoworkers from the sins of their bosses.

UPDATE: Hey, if Myth Romney, son of a auto executive says "let 'em go bankrupt" and screw the people expecting to be paid for services rendered to the Big Three, that's further reinforcement that a bailout -- with tough string attached -- is the way to go.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

outraged libel; i DO NOT want to give those "big boys" a hand out i give generously to those who deserve it.bosses aside, even the line workers make MORE than double what i do-and i have to pay for my health care. compared to most of us, they've had it easy.let them restructure-thats what its for- and if they can't, or won't,why sould we dump more hard earned money down that hole?

November 19, 2008 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are a jealous fool. Blah..blah..blah...look at me I'm like a 5 year old and want what I can't have. Get a union job and you don't have to worry about the price of your healthcare. Oh wait, that's right, you are probably a raging Republican who set up his own demise. By the way, if you don't want to work union then get a degree, stupid. Maybe a degree in economics...hmmm...that sounds like a good idea because you don't understand the severity of maintaining the industry. Anonymous, you sir are a fool.

November 25, 2008 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outraged liberal: Please do not associate Ford Motor Company with the predicament of GM and Chrysler. Nor should you associate the quality of their products. Ford's quality ratings overall surpass all companies in the industry at this time. They have made great strides in their restructuring over the last seven years. FYI: I am not a Ford employee, just an expert on the industry. Ford showed up in D.C. as the moral support, like a good friend at an intervention. The Big Three will stick together, but Ford needs to differentiate itself in some manner. They are in good standing to turn a profit very soon. It was just announced today that Ford and its subsidiaries have the largest number of safe cars on the road, 16in fact. They have made leaps and bounds in a vehicle segment that was nonexistent for them a decade ago. My wife used to drive a 2004 Toyota Corrolla, but she had so many quality defects: dash trim falling off, dash coating chipping and falling off, shifter loose and rattling, leaking transmission, faulty A/C compressor. Fortunately, all of these things were warrantable items, but that is not our concern now. We relieved ourselves of the vehicle in trade for a Ford Fusion(AWD), which surpassed all vehicles in its class for the price and features. Ford has done an excellent job with the mid-size sedan and no one offers features like the ones you may find on the Fusion. You have to go to a high priced European manufacturer to find the same features. A++ Ford, keep it up and you have a bright future.

November 25, 2008 12:11 PM  

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