Ship of Fools: The Big 3 Bailout

November 23, 2008 at 12:11 pm | Posted in Economy | 3 Comments

Ship of Fools: The Big 3 Bailout

Despite the way the CEOs of the Big Three automakers performed in Congressional hearings last week, we persist in our belief that the industry ought to be bailed out. The consequences of letting these companies fail are just too terrible. And if they go into bankruptcy, as some favor, the consequences will be nearly as bad. Creditors of all kinds, from the vendors who sell office supplies to the automakers to the suppliers who make major components, will find their incomes severely cut, and many will fail as a result. No, we must bail out this ship of fools known as the American auto industry.

And ship of fools it certainly is. How many of you have even considered going to your boss and asking for money for a project—with no plan for completing the project? Well that’s what the CEOs of the Big Three did. They went to congress (in three separate corporate jets) and said, “Give us money, but don’t ask how we’re going to spend it because we haven’t come up with a plan.”

Sure. But Step One is to fire the arrogant idiots who ran the companies, and who ran them into the ground. No golden parachutes. No severance pay (they don’t need it). Step Two is for the people who are left to come up with a plan that promises to get results, and to change the corporate culture to one that recognizes reality. Step Three is to give them the money, and Step Four is to look over their shoulders to make sure they’re actually implementing the plan.

This nonsense is making the Curmudgeon very angry. Eight years of horrendously awful government brought us to this economic disaster. The banks, too stunned to ask for money, got a whole lot of it and then sat on it instead of using it to ease credit (or, as in the case of AIG, used it to finance boondoggles for executives). It is way past time to quit playing nice-nice. Let’s get the lead out and make something happen!

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Bail Out the Big Three?

November 19, 2008 at 10:42 am | Posted in Congress, Economy, Politics | 3 Comments

I got an email from Congress.org this morning. It suggested I tell my elected representatives whether I thought we should bail out the big three US auto makers. The question was:

“The big three auto manufacturers have requested $25 billion in short-term emergency loans to avoid bankruptcy.  The auto industry claims that millions of jobs in America are directly and indirectly dependent upon the auto industry and so this will help the broader economy. Opponents say this is simply a bailout for the auto employee unions and is rewarding the U.S. auto industry for poor management.

“A faction of Congress wants to use the loans to demand better environmental policies, increased auto mileage requirements and other policy and management changes.  Opponents say that is government meddling in issues they don’t understand.

“What do you think? Tell Congress if you support emergency loans with policy change conditions, loans without conditions or oppose any loans at all to them.”

My response, shown below, went to President Bush, to my senators, and to my congressman:

“I support the $25 billion short-term loans to the auto industry with conditions. The auto industry supports millions of jobs—some say ten percent of all American jobs—and the impact of bankruptcy on the part of the Big Three would have a devastating effect on our already staggering economy . I don’t think we have any real choice in the matter, except in the strings that are attached to the loans.

“These loans must not be free of strings. They should require management changes (with no golden parachutes) and a restructuring of the industry to prevent overproduction, require more appropriate relationships between the Big Three and their dealerships, and more openness in the dealers’ sales and marketing practices.

“This is a step we must take to save our economy. This is our chance to modernize an industry that was once the envy of the world. I urge you to approve the loans with the conditions described above.”

I urge you to write your elected representatives on this matter.

Congress.org is a convenient, free, nonpartisan way to do so. I say nonpartisan because the organization is nonpartisan. But the people who use it are very partisan. Last week Congress.org took a survey. The first question they asked was, “How do you feel about the election of Barack Obama as President?” Of the responses:

  • 25.5% said “Thrilled.”
  • 7.7% said “Happy.”
  • 21.2% said “Disappointed but I’ll be fine.”
  • 45.5% said “Terrified.”

It seems that the vast majority of respondents—people who use Congress.org to write to their elected representatives—did not vote for Obama. Those of us who are Liberals need to make our opinions heard more vigorously, not just at the polling place, but every time there’s a significant issue. Speak up, ladies and gentlemen.

Will the Left Stop Yelling?

November 11, 2008 at 11:22 am | Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

I posted the following as a comment on the story “Silence to Be Deafening as Left Stops Yelling” on the Pajamas Media blog this morning. If you’d like to read the story, stick the following in your browser. (Um…the blog leans a bit to the right.)

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/silence-to-be-deafening-as-left-stops-yelling/2/

It seems that the right is so upset by the fact that the people chose a liberal—an intellectual, competent liberal at that—that conservatives resort to shrill attacks when they should be trying to redefine their ideology and helping to get the country back on track.  

McCain got defeated because he threw out his principles and ran a campaign based on political expediency. Obama got elected because he represents an honest attempt to change the policies that got us into the horrid mess we’re in, and to change the viciously partisan atmosphere we’ve experienced for the past several years.

 Obama is not perfect. He will be chided when he makes a mistake, as will the Congress. But one of the things he hopes to do is to put aside the shrill attacks your post decries (with equally shrill sarcasm), and which conservatives have launched on anybody who disagrees with them. I hope he will succeed.

It’s not over—and never will be

November 5, 2008 at 9:43 am | Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

The news is good all over the world: with few exceptions the whole world heaved a sigh of relief—in some places they jumped for joy—over the Obama victory. Closer to home, there was dancing in the streets outside the White House, where Washingtonians—the real ones, not the pols—gathered to celebrate. In North Carolina, a battleground state, 100% of the precincts have reported in: Obama leads by only 12,000 of the four million votes cast, and Senator Elizabeth Dole was soundly defeated by challenger (now Senator-Elect) Kay Hagan.

As President-Elect Obama told us last night, however, it’s not over. In fact it hasn’t even begun yet. The President proposes, but the Congress disposes, and even with a comfortable majority in both houses, the Congress won’t give Obama everything he wants, and will change the things they do give him. Both Congress and the President have seen the power of the people, and will listen to their constituents, so it is up to us—their constituents—to tell them what we think.

We’ll be taking positions on issues as they come up, and we hope you’ll comment to us and to your elected representatives (and their appointees). There are some issues that weren’t discussed much, if at all, during the campaign. We’ll be talking about some of those too, so stay tuned.

In the meanwhile, let us resolve to remember that we have been a nation divided, and we now have a chance to be a nation united. That doesn’t mean we’ll all agree on everything. We’ll disagree, and we must have a dialog on the issues. But we must eschew the mean-spirited slurs and partisan dirty tricks we have seen so much of in the last couple of decades. The “other side” is not a bunch of drooling idiots, nor a pack of sleazy crooks: they may differ in their views of how to meet our common objective of a better America, but they are our fellow Americans. They deserve our respect, and they deserve to be treated fairly.

Now get to work!

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