My earlier post today generated a lot of comments: No bailout yet, maybe the Big 3 should save themselves
At a glance count, most commenter’s seemed to agree with me, but there was a forceful minority who strongly opposed it. They even started their own post to trash me (I admit to having some fun over there too), calling me all kinds of awful things. My feelings were hurt; really. I’m crushed. They even suggested I should be removed from the Progressive Bloggers roll because I oppose the bailout. I think I just got an attempted smack-down from the extreme left!
Never mind the fact that it’s ridiculous to assume people on one side of the political spectrum can’t have differences in opinion, but why do some people obviously assume any progressive should support the bailout? And to the extent of claiming the person can’t be a progressive if they don’t?
Here’s what I see as the pros and cons of the bailout. First, some points I believe to be true, to add some context:
- Neither Ford or GM will go away, no matter what happens. At worst they will enter bankruptcy and retool.
- Ford and GMs largest problems are related to weak products and product timing as well as the massive pension and health care liabilities.
- The 3M lost jobs quoted by the UAW is as gross an exaggeration as is the $70/hour wage for the average UAW employee. Some people just won’t accept that if the Big 3 don’t get their bailout money they will not evaporate. Sure, tough times are ahead (they are no matter how much money the government gives them), but there are many ways for them to survive that do not involve nationalization.
- Help some people keep their jobs, at least in the short term.
- There is a national interest in maintaining manufacturing capacity.
- If it weren’t for government-run car companies we’d never have gotten the VW Beetle.
- The role of government, as defined in Canada and the US, does not include guaranteeing jobs to anyone. Their most important role in that area is to produce an environment where business can grow and thrive. I don’t know if I missed a memo that said Progressive has to mean Communist, but if I did then count me out.
- Propping up a failing business is harmful in several ways. First, it rewards failure. Second, it stifles new innovation and new business that could employ those same people in a sustainable way. Third it’s a government-enforced monopoly.
- GM does not appear to have a plan to bring themselves to solvency after taking our tax money. What’s to be done in 6 months? More money? Then what?
- It does not seem fiscally responsible to give more money to companies who have proven they are experts at losing it. Losing $2k on each product you sell means you’re doing something very wrong.
- I’m sick of this “Support American business” line. I work in the tech industry. The Big 3 had no qualms whatsoever about firing thousands of us in North America and replacing us with people in India and China. Why would I give them a level of respect they won’t give me?
- We don’t live in a Communist country, nor have our governments proven particularly adept at running most types of business. There are exceptions, for example the American Medicaid program apparently runs at a fraction of the administrative costs of private health insurers.
So, that’s where I am. I think there are reasonable justifications for the bailout, I just don’t see how that’s more than a short-term band-aid that has more downsides in the long-term.
And, if anyone doesn’t think I quality as a progressive because of my thoughts above, guess how much I care?