General Motors, an icon of American manufacturing and the world’s largest automaker, yesterday threw itself at the mercy of Congress, saying it needed $4 billion to avert a cash crisis by the end of the month and as much as $18 billion in federal loans over the next year.
h goody, here we go again. another US industry is in deep doo-doo thanks to some serious mismanagement and a complete lack of foresight, and now it wants us, the American taxpayers to foot the bill to bail their butts out. I thought that we believed in and practiced capitalism in this country? You know, the law of supply and demand.Give the consumer what they want and, if you don’t, you go belly up like trout in a polluted stream.
The American auto industry, who, in my estimation, has been sleeping with the oil industry, has refused to see that cars that guzzle fossil fuels are not what the American people want. The American people want and need cars that run on fuel that is renewable, and preferably not controlled by countries that don’t much like us.
I remember the OPEC oil embargo back in the late 1970s. I don’t remember the exact year but gasoline supplies dropped and the price skyrocketed. Guess what showed up on the market in a relatively short time? Ethanol, a renewable fuel that was made from our corn surplus. We had more corn back then than we knew what to do with, so much, in fact, that I remember reading that our government was paying farmers to plow it under or burn it or something like that. Now, any time anyone talks about ethanol as an alternative to gasoline, there’s an immediate uproar about how that would create a worldwide food shortage. Well, maybe that is the case now, thanks to all kinds of governmental stupidity, but it was not the case back then. And, had our illustrious government experts been able to read the handwriting on the wall. they would have stopped the destruction of our corn, turned it into ethanol, created huge stockpiles of the stuff, and gotten after the auto industry to modify their cars to take full advantage of ethanol – an easier task than retooling to build electric or nuclear cars. Heck, maybe they could even have convinced the tobacco farmers that there is more profit in corn than tobacco. Isn’t that how capitalism works?
Back to the sad reality of the present.
When there was all that wrangling in Congress over the Wall Street bailout, a fair number of the newer Republicans in the House balked at that idea. Some even referred to it as “socialism.” which, technically it is not, since the government does no really own the firms being bailed out = the definition of socialism being the government owns everything rather than private investors. All these auto bigwigs who are now standing there with their hands out may find things even less congenial than they would have prior to the election. Corporate bigwigs tend to vote Republican and the Congress and the White House, in a little more than a month, will be controlled by the Democrats. But then Obama is a socialist, if you listen to his more conservative critics, so who knows, he might support the bailout.
What would happen if we did not bail out these companies and let them go belly up? There would be massive unemployment in place like Michigan and Illinois and Indiana where these companies have their plants, even more than there already is. But would that stop people from buying new cars? I don’t think so. The demand would still be there and someone would step in to fill the void, someone who produced cars that were more fuel efficient, at the least. Maybe the collapse of the Big Three auto makers would send a message to, not only the other auto makers, but also to Washington, that something has to be done to remove, I mean really remove, our dependency on fossil fuels.
You would see lots of long-delayed research into alternative fuels. You would see new auto makers spring up to make better cars. You would see other auto makers expand their operations to meet demand. Lots of experience out-of-a-job auto workers would go back to work and there would actually be some serious new job creation.
Most important of all, we would lose our dependency on fossil fuels. In the long run we would have cleaner air to breathe, cities would not smell so bad, and the oil companies would get the comeuppance they so richly deserve. So maybe we should let capitalism do its thing and stop with all this socialism that only assists the people who are responsible for the mess we’re in. True socialism is supposed to help working people. I guarantee that even after the bail out of the auto workers, if it should happen, those workers who are collecting unemployment now will still be collecting it then, unless their benefits run out, in which case, they will be collecting welfare checks and food stamps.
No, I’m sorry, but bailing out the auto makers is not going to solve our economic woes. We need something along the lines of the space program in its early days – a government sponsored initiative to develop at least one alternative renewable fuel and the cars that run on it within, five years. If we have not lost our initiative and ingenuity, that should be eminently doable. It may mean a true socialization of the auto and alternative fuel industry, but the price if we do not accomplish this is far worse. And if we are going to provide a short-term bailout to the auto industry it had better have some serious strings to hitch them to this initiative.