19 November 2008

Big Three Bailout

I've been following the bailout proceedings as best I can, with a rather personal position on the whole thing. I didn't really understand why the housing bailout should pass because I didn't really understand the housing crisis, but I get the auto industry. There have been four generations of Ford employees in my family, starting with my great-grandpa who had his checks signed by Henry Ford himself. My dad worked at Ford for over thirty years and now he's seriously in danger of losing the majority of his pension. GM looks like it might be the first to fold, which is problematic, because if one company goes, the much smaller suppliers will fold and then the other auto companies won't be able to make cars because they won't have parts and they too will fold. There has been speculation that foreign auto companies will come in and take up the slack, but for a country that has been patriotic to the point of stupidity, how can they be comfortable with that? Also, Honda doesn't care about the good of the American auto worker.

What many people don't seem to understand is that if there is no bailout, not only will the companies fold, but there will be jobs lost. What is also ignored is that there are thousands of people who have worked hard their entire adult lives in the industry who were promised a pension and retired with that money in mind. If any of the companies declare bankruptcy, those pensions will be drastically cut. How is it that any citizen could be so lacking in compassion that they would laugh at the lack of foresight of the auto industry? Why is there a lack of the same sort of understanding that was given to those people who stupidly bought houses they couldn't afford? All these stupid auto industry workers did was work hard for decades, save enough money to retired, and expect a pension. Yeah, I suppose those people were stupid for trying to plan ahead, instead of, you know, not looking at the fact that the appreciation rate for homes was ridiculous compared to the increase in salaries and then buying a house that they clearly could not afford.

At this point, pointing fingers back at the auto industry for lacking foresight does no one any good. In a small defense, the American auto companies developed cars that they could be competitive with and that they had carefully examined through R&D. Speaking of which, all of those jobs are gone now too. I think that everyone who has labeled themselves as a conservative (especially a Christian conservative) needs to back business, because that's what they do, right? And anyone who has labeled themselves as a human being, needs to work to help thousands of their brothers and sisters retain their jobs. The reason why I've always stayed away from economics as an interest is because it always disgusted me in how it ignores individuals. Claiming that a 4% unemployment rate is good, is saying that it's okay to have >12 million people out of work. Call me crazy, but I don't see that teaching the auto industry a "lesson" as something that is productive or healthy, because, seriously, what happened to caring about one's fellow man?

1 comment:

Johnny Banana said...

I think the only point that I disagree on is that Honda doesn't care about the American auto workers. They locally build a large fraction of the cars they sell here, mostly because it's expensive to ship them, and because Japanese workers are also fairly expensive.

The second point is that they're going to get a bailout. It may not happen until January 21st, but it's going to happen. I think it's also going to be difficult for Republicans to ever win an election again if they keep voting against the best interests of their constituents based on a combination of "Union Busting" and "OMG MARKET FORCES FTW!" Given that the conservative estimate is 2.5e6 jobs lost (which would bump the unemployment rate up to 10% or something), that's a lot of pissed off voters who suddenly don't give a damn is two gay guys get married.

I think that the proper solution to this problem is two-fold. Part one is that the health insurance costs are skyrocketing too fast to be handled by companies. Given that they've basically doubled in the past eight years, it's a bit amazing that any large company that offers health insurance has survived. The solution to this is obvious. Part two would involve some sort of government controller to help guide the companies after they've received the money. They've been fighting against higher fuel efficiency for decades. That cannot be allowed to continue.

Finally, I guess I disagree with your unhappiness with a stable 4% unemployment rate. Generally this is due to some churn in people's jobs, such that they've lost one job and are searching for a new one. This is a good thing, because it means that the economy is flexible. When new jobs are added, they're added in such a way that no existing productivity is lost. Admittedly, this model is set up for a continually expanding economy.

Ok, my thought train pulled away without me, so I think I'm done. :)