The Fourth, Unnamed Horseman of the Apocalypse That Is the GM Bailout

I haven’t a clue as to how to proceed about the potential auto industry bailout, and anyone who can say with confidence about how the largest industrial bailout in U.S. history will play out is kidding themselves. My instinct is not to lose U.S. controlled industrial capacity on national security grounds. But to follow on something driftglass discussed, there seems to be one group of people who aren’t getting blamed.

-link to driftglass
-list as questions the three fuckups
Are salaries and benefits relatively ‘high’ for auto workers?
Sure (although nobody cares to comment on the ‘high’ salaries of pundits who don’t actually produce anything…).
Did the venality and shortsightedness, not to mention ideological zealotry, of auto executives lead us to this mess?
You betcha.
And should the Congressional and state delegations for Michigan be forced to be chased through the streets and pelted with dogshit for failing their constituents and our country.
But we seem to have forgotten that no one bought these SUVs at gunpoint; millions and millions of Americans wanted these things. In fact, not too long ago, if you even suggested that you wanted a fuel efficient car that didn’t handle like a brick shithouse, many of the same people who now want to bust the unions (and would have GM enter Chapter 7 the day after it enters Chapter 11) would have called you an argula-eatin’, tree-huggin’ pussy, not to mention a Dirty Fucking Hippie.
Millions of Americans–many of whom I’m sure overlap with those now wanting to kill GM–enabled GM’s bad behavior by buying vanity ‘trucks.’
It’s not too surprising that conservatives are leading the charge to send this past environment-destroying sausage fest straight down the memory hole. But along with all of the other reasons to bail out GM, let’s not forget that millions of people who are now pissing and moaning about GM’s bad decisions were the same fucknozzles who enabled those bad decisions.
Of course, nobody likes to be reminded that they were part of the problem. Too bad.

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7 Responses to The Fourth, Unnamed Horseman of the Apocalypse That Is the GM Bailout

  1. Dunc says:

    But we seem to have forgotten that no one bought these SUVs at gunpoint; millions and millions of Americans wanted these things.

    True, but let’s not forget something else that people don’t like to be reminded of: advertising works.

  2. Troublesome Frog says:

    Why a bailout? I’m not against the government providing financing to get them through chapter 11 since it would be hard for such a large organization to get good credit on the open market right now, but what makes GM special enough that they should simply avoid chapter 11 altogether? Cases like theirs are exactly what it’s there for: GM is badly run insolvent company that still has lots of legitimate value if it’s able to restructure.
    We bail out banks and insurance companies because having them in limbo is dangerous. GM is just another company, even if it is a big one.

  3. IBY says:

    I am busy, and haven’t had time for much news, so can anyone bother telling me what the auto executives did to lead them into this mess? At least can anyone give me a link?

  4. Lora says:

    I agree. Now that I think about it, would it be possible to finance such a bailout by taxing all SUV owners some amount? I don’t know how other states track vehicle purchases, but I know my fair state tracks not only make and model, but also blue book value and makes you pay tax based on that. Hypothetically, they could send a ballot in the annual tax bill that says, “We see on your registration that you are the proud owner of a GM Canyonero. GM is currently experiencing hard financial times. If GM goes out of business, they will no longer be able to manufacture Canyonero parts, and ZOMG TEH WHOLE ECONOMIES GONNA COLLAPSE!!!!ELEVENTYONE!!!111!! If you would like to vote to send GM some money, which may or may not save the company, please check this box. If a majority of Canyonero voters agree that GM should stay in business, then they will be taxed to support GM in these tough times. Thank you for your time and generosity, &c. &c. ”

  5. There was at one time a “gas-guzzler” tax, but it exempted trucks because in many states they are registered as commercial vehicles. Obviously, an Escalade is not a commercial vehicle, nor are the “crossover” vehicles. I don’t know how such a division between passenger cars and trucks could reasonably made, but I think that this exemption encouraged the mess we are in. The exemption should be adjusted so that buyers who demonstrate that their vehicles are legitimately used for a commercial perhaps that require cargo space (sorry, Red Bull Hummers,) should have the exemtion. The gas guzzler tax should apply to all non-exempt uses.
    I remember asking people with lux SUV’s why they bought them for primary use vehicles when the price of gas was going up, and most people said “Because I can afford it.” They didn’t think it was important that they were also driving up the price of transportation for people who could ill-afford it.
    I am not sure what is going to happen to the price of gas now that the economy is tanking, but if we are going to help the big three, Congress should attach strings to any plan; they should tell the auto manufacturers that when they are digging themselves into a hole the bailout isn’t going to be used to buy a shinier shovel.

  6. Henry says:

    Oh my lord. Fucknozzle! That will be my word of the week!

  7. Art says:

    a little known aspect of this is that when then big three were king and the unions looked around they looked at how things were done in Germany. There the unions had used their influence to get seats on the corporate boards. In effect the workers had some hand in deciding what was produced and how.
    It was a big thing to the management of auto companies. They liked having total control. They didn’t want o have anyone second guessing them on the corporate board, particularly not anyone who could leverage a boardroom position with mass action.
    When the unions mentioned this option the auto companies counter offered with a large pay raise and favorable increase in benefits. The companies felt they could afford the price. Business was booming. Many of these costs would only be realized long term as people retired and needed health care. The industry was only looking a few years ahead.
    The unions were faced with the choice of more money now or getting less money but gaining some control over the industry long term. The union bosses, being well indoctrinated mass consumers, took the money and never looked back. The auto workers would be the model for well off blue collar workers. And everybody was pretty happy as long as everything was looking up.
    The decision to not have a union voice on the board was felt in the ‘dark times’ in the 70s when the companies were clearly producing substandard vehicles. Cars were rolling of the assembly lines broken. Often with parts like transmissions uninstalled. The unions tried to tell the companies that they were killing the business. Workers were openly ashamed of the product they produced. But without a seat on the board the unions couldn’t do much. Producing crap didn’t break the union rules.
    All this falls under the heading of what was and what might have been. What if the union bosses looked long term and got their seat on the board? Perhaps the US product lines would look more like the Japanese auto makers. Remember that it was GM that first developed the hybrid drive system. A development that was ignored. The GM management was sure that Americans didn’t want and wouldn’t buy anything like that.
    The big three have been dragging their asses since the middle 50s. When they went from a few car models with real technical innovation to most of the money being spent on advertising, redesigning the body every year and lots of models built on the same platform. They got into producing hyped froth. While the engineering basics were neglected. Siting on our laurels allowed the Japanese and Germans, eventually the Koreans, the catch up.
    One thing about what eh auto industry is saying has me wondering if chapter 11 might not be better than handing out money. The argument from the automakers is that if they can just get the money to tide them over until good times roll around they will make it. And the other companies are also hurting.
    Well sure. In an easy and universally prosperous economy they can make it. The strength of a company is not in how well it stays afloat in good times. It is how it survives in bad times. Just as you don’t define the worth of a boat as its ability to float in the artificially protected calm of a mill pond. You see how it handles the bad times in its natural environment.
    The claim that the auto industry as presently structured will survive if only times turn good doesn’t fill me with confidence. That is a very low standard. What if the good times don’t arrive as soon as they want. I think that if these companies are going to get taxpayers money we need to see a plan that realistically see the companies surviving the hard times. This could also mean the company is efficient enough to really prosper, pay off their loans early and become serious international competitors, if things do go their way.

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