Let them fail

I’m with the Republicans on this one…

Admittedly, I’ve only followed the headlines on this auto industry bailout story, so I don’t know very much about it. Maybe that’s why I fail to understand the logic of it. If the US auto industry fails, it fails. This doesn’t affect the structure of the nation in any way except perhaps nostalgically. Seems to me the industry blew it. Car manufacturers did not innovate and did not anticipate the needs of consumers or the state of the marketplace. They were pitching macho, tough-guy sex appeal with bloated phallic symbols while designers in Asia were putting out simple, efficient, c0st-effective designs. This is nothing new. It’s been happening for at least 20 years.

We can’t afford — economically or philosophically — to bail out companies that don’t know how to compete. If the government wanted to get involved, it should have done so years ago, with tax incentives for new technologies and by enforcing fuel efficiency standards. These measures could have changed the course of events. But it’s too late now. Handing money over to a government auto czar will, like the Texas congressman above said, turn the industry into Amtrack. What the government needs to do in this scary new era of handouts to corporations is to send a message that if you fail, too bad. If you’re fat, bloated, inert, unimaginative, and myopic, tough shit. I feel for the blue collar employees. But I like to think that these workers can find jobs in foreign auto companies. It’s the executives who need to die off and become compost so that newer ideas can emerge.

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5 Responses to “Let them fail”

  1. The logic is, that if you let the car companies fail, not only will the employees of GM, Ford and Chrysler lose their jobs, but so will the hundreds of thousands if not millions of others who work for small/medium parts manufacturers/suppliers to these companies. I can’t remember where I read it, but someone wrote about 2-5 million jobs would be lost. It’s a big number any way you look at it. But I actually agree with you, let them fail.

  2. I agree, though it’s easy to say such a thing from the comfy chair in my office at my university job. Putting 2.5 million people out of work could spell serious trouble for the US economy. But keeping these shitty auto companies afloat spells serious trouble as well.

    I totally agree with your post, though. I think that we need to start letting some of these overbloated and terrible industries collapse under their own weight.

  3. I’ve heard that even with the bail-out about 2/3’s of jobs will be lost anyway. There’s also been some news in the NYT’s about Chrysler and an investment company named Cerebus with some real shady dealings.

  4. Yeah, I didn’t mean to be so heartless. It’s a shame all around. I just find it strange that the solution for lack of imagination in business is lack of imagination in government.

    How about putting half of that money toward job retraining for anyone laid off, plus some additional funding toward new technologies? The industry fails as it should, but the workers get a little something and new ideas can emerge.

    I’m sure it’s probably more complicated than that.

  5. Or maybe I was being too kind. This bit about auto workers’ wages pissed me off…

    “Critics suggest that Big Three’s union workers make about $78 an hour in wages and benefits, compared to about $48 an hour for U.S. workers employed by Toyota. But UAW officials insist the figure is closer to $60 if you take out the costs for pensions for retired workers, and new younger employees make just $15 an hour in wages – similar to the rates for foreign automakers in the United States.”

    $78 an hour! Holy crap. Even if it’s more like $60, while Toyota’s employees average $48… something’s not right.

    My empathy for the poor auto worker just ran dry.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/12/12/MNI514N7VU.DTL

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