Torn…

11 12 2008
As a conservative I believe that government should stay as far away from interfering with the marketplace as it possibly can. As I’ve stated before, I’m not what you’d call a libertarian, for I do believe that there is a place at the table for government as far as making things more efficient and easier for the citizenry to function for the mutual benefit of each other. After all, that’s why you have governments in the first place isn’t it? The common good. But only so far. As I said, the less government interference the better.
Government, on the federal level, should limit itself to building roads and bridges and dams and assure our protection from outside forces. Make sure we play fair with each other. Make sure others play fair with us. Laws, regulations, and programs that go farther than that should be pretty much limited to the state and local level where the citizen has more control.

Our constitution was designed to limit the government in both size and power, but over the years we the people have allowed it to escape those boundaries. And we are now seemingly disembarking on an even more comprehensive expansion of federal power in both size and shape. Troubling? To me, yes it is.

I don’t like the idea of Governmental Bailouts of private enterprise. Especially when that “bailout” comes with the price of more Federal control. More control of ‘them’ means more control of ‘us’. But…

Now we find a huge industry in trouble. And with that trouble comes the inevitable witch hunt that Washington so loves. Detroit, with hat in hand, comes a ‘calling for your and my tax dollars. Tax dollars from a wallet that is getting more and more thin. Times being what they are we all just about choked at the thought. Yet, I’m torn.

With the one hand government giveth, and as always, with the other it taketh away. When has it never been so. And so, here too Washington wants something for its efforts. Control.

The witch hunt begin in the press as quick as it did on the hill. The audacity (the new ‘pop’ word for our everchanging political culture) of those chairmen from those car companies coming to D.C. with there hand out and arriving in PRIVATE JETS! You could practically see people keeling over all around the place. The horror of it all. The…, the…, audacity! Those guys had two and a half strikes against them going in.

Now I could at this point break it down for you and show that time being money and the dollars these guys make and what they cost per minute to just exist and tell you all about the efficiency of time management and speeds involved and waiting and flexibility and how overall it probably saved their companies stockholders a fairly nice sum of money to actually take those corporate aircraft instead of flying by airline (they drove the second trip, by the way), but you probably don’t want to hear much about the reality of corporate flying… it “looks” bad, and ‘perception’ is so very important, …so we’ll skip that part of the lunacy of it all.

One major argument that I’ve heard over the last few weeks is all about the inefficiency of the Big 3 and how they don’t produce the cars that people want to buy and how the management is like dinosaurs and… well that’s more than one major argument, but we’ve just piled and piled on the blame and pointed the fingers and tsk, tsked them to near death. But in reality, just how much of that is true?

First, those car companies have been up until recently building us, the car buying public, just exactly what we wanted. WE wanted those big SUV’s and such. Nobody forced anybody to buy a Hummer or a monster four door truck. We asked, they delivered. We didn’t want iddy ibby gas savers till when? When the price of gas skyrocketed. And when we wanted them they couldn’t deliver. Not on the cheap anyhow.

So, is all this their fault? Not entirely. Not even mostly. Have you got any idea how long it takes to design, test, and certify a new car? Do you have any inkling of the regulations that a car must meet? An overnight process it isn’t.

It wasn’t their fault that gas prices skyrocketed. That mostly lay on the shoulders of Washington. It was the housing market that screwed up the credit markets. Who’s fault was that? Again, Washington D.C.

Well, you say, they’ve had plenty of time to prepare. We’ve known about a coming energy shortage for a while now. True, and they do hold a good bit of fault there, but in reality they’ve had cars that fit that mold for years and we didn’t buy them in any kind of numbers. So when the price of gasoline shot up the facilities weren’t there to jump up and run. It takes time to retrofit and modernize, and that’s what it takes to swap a plant from one model to another. Time. And time they did not have.

Besides, they have been steadily working at change. Ford has vastly improved its efficiency class vehicles and made huge improvements in safety. GM lost an entire line – Oldsmobile. Engineering at all of them has blossomed. Take a look at some of the new innovations and that’s plain to see. Motors that turn parts of themselves on and off… computerized fuel management, even the design and production of hybrids has come a long long way in just a short time.

This all leads to why I’m torn about the bailout. A huge part of Detroit’s problem isn’t Detroit, it’s Washington D.C.

I heard in the news a fairly shocking thing, yet I already knew it. Just hearing it again in this context , though… To buy a ‘American’ car costs you two thousand dollars right up front. $2,000.00 Just to buy American.

We’ve burdened our American Car Companies with huge amounts of regulations and taxes and a ineffective way of doing business that has cost them any advantage their product being “American Made” has. Many of their product aren’t even American Made anymore, because it cost to much to make them here in America. That’s terrible. And a waste.

We’ve force fed them Union labor and told them to like it. They have a legacy that goes back years and years of benefits and cost that have grown now to a point that is exceeding their ability to control. And our government hasn’t provided them with anywhere near a level playing field internationally.

The cost to design and develop a new model, configure a factory to build, then bring that car to the market is huge. Huge, before even the first one is sold. There no real way to test the waters with these products. You build it and hope they come. Most of the time they do come…, sometimes they don’t.

One perspective that we as conservatives have lost in this is that a lot of what we need to change with those companies is going to come in human costs. The Union’s? Well, they may renegotiate, but they are not gonna just take a hike. We need to keep ourselves aware of that as this process goes forward. This is gonna cost people jobs and money.

It’s a very risky thing, no matter which way it goes, especially for us republicans. We walk the razors edge with this. If we bail out those companies we stand to be the fall guy when election time comes for allowing our tax dollars to be used for that. And if we force these companies into bankruptcy, and that goes bad and costs large job losses, maybe the loss of an entire industry, we will catch the blame for that. Even the dollar cost to companies that that hold credit with these companies could be huge, and that cost could be widespread, even if the Big 3 are saved. And the lowering of compensation for their employees will be a burden that will reflect back in the future.

Even if the Big 3 are saved other related businesses and industries might not be.

Remember, those things that “could have been” become meaningless with time. That we might have “saved” those companies will matter little to those that lose anything at all in this.

Do we bail them out? That’s NOT the American way. Do we not bail them out? Well, it is a good bit our fault that they are here, doing the asking.

I’m torn.

-Al
 

 

 

 

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One response

12 12 2008
GUYK

You have pretty well summed it up. No one in their right mind wants to see the big three go under…but a government bail out just doesn’t compute. The bankruptcy laws provide a chance for them to regroup and maybe pull out of it. If in fact they seek protection and reorganization under chapter 11, I will support government back loans from the banking industry. But I will not support any direct government loans OR oversight other than such oversight provided by a chapter 11 referee.

I contend that there is a solution to keep this kind of business crises from happening in the future..a National Right To Work Law! Government has tilted the playing field in favor of labor and until it is leveled again here will be more of these problems.

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