Silly Bailout Commentary
I’m not in favor of the auto bailout as it stands. I don’t know if I would have even been in favor of it if the UAW gave in to the Republican demands in the Senate, but I know that a bankruptcy from GM or Chrysler will hurt a great many people, so I’d want help to go to those individual workers.
But people are just getting stupid with this. In the New York Daily News Errol Louis writes under this headline: “Republicans subsidize foreign auto makers, but leave Detroit hanging“. I know writers don’t write their own headlines, but this pretty much captures the sentiment.
When I saw, I expected to find that the states of these southern senators were giving boatloads of cash to foreign companies to make sure they stay profitable and stay where they are. I was ready to be upset with them for being unfaithful conservatives. But what I found was this:
“We have Hyundai Motor Co. that got $252 million in incentives. Toyota there got $29 million in incentives. Honda, $158 million,” Gettelfinger said.
Alabama gave Mercedes-Benz the sweetest deal of all: job training, incentives, an agreement to buy 2,500 cars and a parcel of land valued at more than $250 million – the price to Mercedes of building a plant…
That, in a nutshell, is the problem. Nationwide, right-to-work states have poured $3 billion in subsidies into foreign-owned carmakers since 1992, according to the union. And yet Republican senators from states like Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee and both Carolinas suddenly turned into born-again opponents of giving government dollars to private companies.
I like that he highlights “billion” as though it’s an unthinkable amount. Is he really comparing $3 billion, parceled out over 16 years to at least four companies, to $14 billion given in a lump sum to two companies, with the expectation of more in a few months? Is he comparing state money given to expanding businesses as an incentive to create jobs and economic growth – direct benefits to the people of the state which will amount to a major profit in future tax revenue – to federal money given to companies that have been flirting with bankruptcy for years?
I also read something in the Christian Science Monitor, Rescue US Autoworkers First, with the idea that “the Big Three are due to be shrunk or folded, either by bankruptcy or by a string of bailouts,” and so the Congress should put laid-off autoworkers at the top of the list for jobs resulting from the massive public works spending to come.