Some of the cars of my childhood are no more. Kaiser-Frazier was the biggest postwar challenger to the Big Three. Models included the 1949 Kaiser Custom Vagabond, the 1948 Frazer Manhattan four-door sedan, the Dragon sedans and Henry J coupes. In 1970, Kaiser, then known as the Kaiser Jeep Corporation, was sold to American Motors Corporation.
Other auto companies either went out of business or were bought. These included Packard ("ask the man who owns one"), Studebaker ("first by far with a postwar car"), and Hudson, which began making cars in 1909 and, like other automobile companies, in early 1942 was ordered by the U.S. government to stop making passenger cars and concentrate exclusively on fulfilling war contracts. In 1954, Hudson eventually merged with Nash-Kelvinator to become American Motors, a company that lasted in one form or another until 1987 when Chrysler gobbled it up.
None of these companies (and many more before them and after with names such as Tucker, DeLorean and Duesenberg) received government bailouts. If they couldn't sell their products at a profit, they either sold out, or went bust. People who worked for them found other jobs. No one starved to death.
Americans have benefited from capitalism. Our government should not be undermining an economic system that has produced more prosperity for its citizens than any nation on earth. It cannot forever prop up companies that make products not enough people wish to buy. If a growing number of people prefer cars not produced by GM and Chrysler, how will a government rescue plan make them more likely to buy them?
The "going out of business sale" sign should go up now. Taxpayers should not be expected to underwrite dying companies, unless we get a free car for our money. But that only happens on "Oprah."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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