I find myself siding with the Repulicans on this one. Sorta weird. Tom Friedman has it right. I can’t see a good reason why we should put taxpayers’ dollars into a dying industry. GM, Ford and Chrysler’s management have done a miserable job, and unless they go through a serious shakeup such as a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they shouldn’t continue to exist. The writing is on the wall for them. The Emperor has no clothes. As far as investors, lenders — I am one, through funds — and management, they deserve to suffer the consequences of how these companies have been run. The only consituents who may be entiteld to taxpayer assistance are the autoworkers and employees (not executives) of the small suppliers.
This brings up the union, healthcare and pension issues. Messy, to say the least. Personally, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with unions. I believe in the basic concepts of collective bargaining and I recognize that without the ability of employees to organize, employers will exploit them unfairly. But while the major U.S. unions have done an admirable job of growing benefits for their members, there now exist inequities in the benefits and pensions between union and non-union workers in this country. True, the UAW has accepted some concessions in recent years, but the fact is that GM and others are under a tremendous burden in supporting their former employees. This, by the way, is what the Republicans are thinking but not saying. By withholding from Detroit another $25 billion, they’re fostering union-busting through the bankruptcy process.
Although I’m not anti-union, this could ultimately be a good thing. Rather then spending billions on propping up the corporations, I’d like to see Obama and the Congress take this as an opportunity to start providing universal healthcare for all (not just out-of-work auto workers) and beefing up the Social Security System. I think we’re the only country in the world that ties healthcare to employment, which is nuts. And we’ve all seen what will happen if we continue down the Republican path of increased privitazion of retirement benefits.
Let the Big Three go into Bankruptcy. That’s what it’s for. There’s a process that has been tweaked for decades as opposed to the Paulson/Bernanke methodology of writing checks without adequate conditions and then seeing what works and what doesn’t. Let the old and broken institutions crumble. Only then can we get to the bottom and build a more honest and sustainable world. Avoiding the inevitable never works, by definition.