David B.




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November 20, 2008

Feeding the Big Three Pigs


Well, it probably was inevitable.


Once the likes of Lehman Brothers and AIG insurance demonstrated that all you had to do to receive billions of dollars from the federal government was to implement an unsustainable business model, maintain vast numbers of talentless and overpaid hacks in senior management positions, and produce poor-quality products that nobody needs or wants, it was a given that General Motors, Ford and Chrysler would necessarily be next in line.


Sure enough. Right on cue, the bloated, overfed ticks occupying the chairman’s corner office at each of these mouldering enterprises has shown up on Capitol Hill with a tear in their eye and doctored books in their hands, spewing jeremiads of job losses and economic ruin and pleading for a nice long suckle at the public teat. Left less than sated by $25 billion in recent loan guarantees for the development of ecologically friendly vehicles, the Motor City parasites are back begging for another $25 billion to subsidize their continued manufacture of the inefficient, ugly, fuel-swilling and unreliable vehicles that are their stock in trade, all the while muttering dark warnings of the dire consequences to the economy should their pleas fall on deaf ears.


There’s nothing like emotional blackmail to spur a reactionary legislative branch into action, and few Democratic congresspersons are likely to relish the prospect of legions of newly unemployed auto workers screaming for revenge during the 2010 election cycle should the bailout, and subsequently one of the “Big Three,” fail. Republicans, on the other hand, are drooling at the prospect of a major auto firm – not incidentally, hailing from a Democratic-governed state – landing in Chapter 11.


With one stroke, the “bankrupt” automaker would be free to bust its unions, void its contracts and complete the process of relocating the entirety of its production to Mexico, with the ruination of the American middle class as the booby prize for fulfillment of their laissez-faire fantasy.


There are few prospects less palatable than the shoveling of still more public cash into the gaping maws of these most swinish and socially irresponsible of firms, especially when taking into account the idea that the likes of GM’s Rick Waggoner, a man responsible for the loss of countless jobs and the ruination of an equal number of lives, will not only benefit financially as a result, but feel at least a twinge of wholly-undeserved happiness. Nonetheless, one salient fact remains: Bailing out the automakers isn’t about saving the ossified car companies themselves. It is about preserving what is left of unions and the last vestiges of America’s manufacturing capabilities. It simply must be done.


A few fine-print caveats, however, should be entertained before the first public dime reaches GM’s coffers:


1. Ownership of all physical assets, inclusive of factories and offices, should be transferred to the federal government and leased back to the firms on a for-profit basis;


2. A mandatory 10-year zero layoffs policy should be introduced;


3. Bailout funds should be in the form of a “mass transit Marshall plan.” The (former) automakers would be charged with re-engineering and retooling their operations for purposes of developing and implementing next-generation mass transit solutions, including high-speed rail;


4. The onset of the bailout program would mark the beginning of a mandatory 15-year phase-out of the manufacture of petroleum-consuming internal combustion engines;


5. Bailout recipients shall be legally precluded from any petition for bankruptcy protection. 


Likely? Hardly. The same federal government that fell all over itself in its rush to hand $700 billion to career corporate criminal Henry Paulson with which to line the pockets of his financial industry friends is hardly likely to treat the Pig Three with anything other than genuflecting deference, opening the public trough as far and wide as possible for them to root and snuffle in.


Standing up for the rights of American taxpayers or workers, let alone adherence to principle, simply isn’t in the cards. But as the automakers roll languidly in the beds of cash destined to be bestowed on them, in return for their kindly refraining from dynamiting what remains of the American economy and manufacturing base, it should be remembered that each and every dollar feathering their beds represents food out of the mouth of a hungry child, health care denied to a sick person, and a family facing foreclosure without recourse. Crime may not generally pay, but when it comes to Big Three blackmail, restrictions most certainly apply.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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