If you have been paying attention to the news lately, the latest disaster for the nation (are you keeping track? there will be a test later!) is the eminent (and imminent) failure of the auto industry. Depending on your depth of thought, you might already have the preliminary decision in mind already, as many in the Congress apparently do.
After watching the Sunday morning news programs, and getting up at 3 AM this morning, as I missed ‘Meet the Press’, and our local affiliate replays it at that time, I was not surprised to see that it was the main topic of discussion yet again. It featured one of the senators from Michigan, a Democrat, and one of the southern Republicans as the starters in the debate. The Democrat was, of course, in favor of the bailout, as the crisis is in his home state, and is affecting his constituents directly. The Republican was on the side of free market economics, and believes that the auto industry should be allowed to fail – after all, his state has little to do with that set of businesses … or does it?
Immediately upon the main screen behind Tom Brokaw was a map, delineating exactly how many, and where the auto industry jobs are located, and next was the thought that so many more jobs would be lost in the support businesses across the nation, irrespective of state borders.
Tom Friedman was on the discussion panel this morning, right after the Congressmen left. For those not aware, Mr. Friedman writes for the New York Times, and also happens to have won the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Mr. Friedman put forth the very astute observation that we are in the midst of a crisis that has never been seen in our world’s history. Essentially, this puts any normal answer to the main question into the category of wasted time. The economy, whether anyone who thinks the market should rule is listening or not, is entirely too fragile to suffer a blow of these proportions. The wrong decision on this could propel the nation into worse difficulties than those that arose in 1929, making this current series of events ‘the great depression’.
On the other hand, I do believe that the auto industry should be guided by its Uncle Sam, with things like top executive positions garnering meager pay until such time as the loans are paid back in full. (These people will not go hungry, they’ve been reaping large, unmerited rewards, the entire time that their companies having been circling the drain.) Perhaps the rank and file workers should be expected to take a pay cut, but it cannot be large, and besides, their wages pale compared to the five to ten top positions. These are, to put it in military terms, the generals, who are leading the fight, and if a sword must be fallen upon, it is the leaders job to do it.
It does remain, however, that America must have an automobile industry, and one in which the profit centers are somewhere within our borders, not in Japan or Korea. America is the largest consumer of vehicles, so it makes sense that the monetary and ecological needs of this country call for the industry to reside here.
The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Albert Einstein, 03/14/1879 – 04/18/1955
Nobel Prize Laureate (Physics)
Nothing endures but change.