The public already has cast a landslide vote on the nation's automotive industry. They hate it. And why shouldn't they? The Big Three automakers have generated a level of consumer satisfaction not seen in America since the English started taxing tea in Boston.
The Republican Party also has been peddling a highly disagreeable product. And if they have a desire to regain relevancy, it is incumbent on them to use whatever meager power they still possess to stop the Democrats from passing a bailout of the Big Three.
We should be calling this a bailout of incompetence, corporate cronyism and unionism, actually -- and a step toward nationalization, as Congress wants a stake in these companies in exchange for, you know, helping out. (Does anyone remember the Trabant?)
What is one to make of Democrats' enlisting the genius who helped bring about the Freddie and Fannie mess, Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and a senator from Michigan , Carl Levin, to craft the Detroit bailout legislation? It's a shame Jack Abramoff is too busy to chip in with his thoughts.
Though Congress already has approved $25 billion in loans to prop up a defective auto industry, one wonders whether anyone in Washington has asked whether this near corpse is worth saving in its present form. If it is, surely other corporations and investors will excavate the facets of the business that work.
Yet if you happen to listen to backers of a car bailout, you may be led to believe that the Tahoe is a pillar of American life. "It is critical that the nation understand this isn't just a Michigan problem, that 1 in 10 jobs in the country are impacted by the auto industry," Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently proclaimed in an interview.
We still are going to buy cars, Madame Governor, but perhaps we will buy them from companies that have the temerity to say "no" to unions and don't have crushing legacy costs associated with them. These corporations may not even be headquartered in Michigan.
Nancy Pelosi is worried that if General Motors declared bankruptcy, the union would lose power and executives would make off like bandits. So she would like taxpayers to help General Motors pay for the nearly 450,000 retirees who live off extravagant pensions and free medical care.
Now, unions claim they simply want "working" families to make livable wages. But Dr. Mark J. Perry, a professor of economics and finance in the School of Management at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan, calculates that employees of the Big Three automakers' average compensation is $73 an hour. The U.S. employees of Toyota are at $48, a 52 percent differential.
GM, after all, is the company that caved to an idea that only a union or government agency could possibly concoct: a "jobs bank" program.
A jobs bank is not about jobs, per se. No, in a jobs bank, employees are paid nearly their full salaries (SET ITAL) to avoid all work (END ITAL) and hang out. Sounds more like a think tank than a job bank. And no taxpayer should be on the hook for either of those enterprises.
Now, we were warned that allowing the banking system to fail would result in a credit crunch that would turn New York City into a dust bowl. But GM shares are already worth an amount between absolute zero and the price of newspaper stock. That's what investors think of the company.
So this bailout is about taxpayer money being handed to a rotting business-union partnership that engaged voluntarily in agreements they can't honor. Let them go bankrupt and work it out among themselves like everyone else.
I, for one, have been punished enough. I already own an American car.