Friday, December 19, 2008

A Better Auto Bailout

At last, W has seen his way clear to give GM and Chrysler their bailout: $13.4 billion now and another $4 billion to be made available in February. Alas, the overseer of the bailout will be none other than our esteemed Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson. And we're giving him this oversight because he's done such a crack job of overseeing the Wall Street bailout? Heckuva job, Hank! I'm sorry, but I wouldn't trust that guy to oversee my bank account, and it's not much to crow about.

In any case, not bailing out GM and Chrysler would have had disastrous consequences for the economy, not only in the United States but all over the world. This bailout, unlike the one for Wall Street, comes with stipulations, and apparently there will be consequences if the stipulations aren't met. According to the New York Times, "The loan deal requires the companies to quickly reduce their debt by two-thirds, mostly through debt-for-equity swaps, and to reach an agreement with the United Automobile Workers union to cut wages and benefits so they are competitive with those of employees of foreign-based automakers in the United States."

I suppose that last bit is meant to appease the Corker crew in the Senate, who scuttled the auto bailout last week in their attempt to skewer the UAW. What's with the obsession with the wages of the auto workers? Do these folks just not like it when workers are well compensated? Do they loathe the middle class? If so, how the hell did they get elected?

Do you really want people representing you in Congress who think they know how much you should and shouldn't be paid and want to be sure you aren't making too much? Does it bother you that your elected officials care more about castrating the UAW than they do about preventing a worldwide economic depression?

That the American people take this buffoonery sitting down is absolutely beyond me.

Here's a great idea my husband came up with for an auto bailout that would actually work: provide very low-interest loans, or even handouts, for Americans to buy U.S.-made cars. This would help Detroit, stimulate the economy, and actually help Americans in need who are hurting because of the economic crunch. The loans/handouts could be made available to people most in need, people with a good driving record, particularly no DUIs.

Furthermore, a Main Street auto bailout would give the American people a chance to vote with dollars regarding which of Detroit's products they find most appealing, possibly even encouraging automakers to produce cars people actually want.

I was so overwhelmed with the brilliance of Tom's idea that I invited him to post on the Worley Dervish from time to time, if he's willing. Here's hoping he takes me up on my offer.


  1. The funny thing about the UAW renegotiating the union contracts is that non-union workers working for companies like Toyota and Honda here in the U.S. are making just about the same as unionized workers working for the big three.

  2. According to the New York Times (, the "true hourly compensation of Detroit’s unionized work force" is about $55 an hour, whereas "Honda’s or Toyota’s (nonunionized) workers . . . make in the neighborhood of $45 an hour, and most of the gap stems from their less generous benefits."