Why I like the auto bailoutDecember 10, 2008: 10:35 AM ET
Many smart people are busy deriding it. There are a host of philosophical, political and economic idealogues, each with a dozen excellent reasons, postulates and theories, backed up by cogent analysis of the first order, riding into battle against it. But it's going to pass. And I'm glad.
I don't care if the Detroit business model is wrong right now. I don't care if their leadership is the biggest bunch of bozos who ever drew breath. The fact is, everybody looks kind of stupid right now, don't they? In fact, the whole game has changed for just about everybody, no matter what part of the supply chain you're in. A guy can't even sell a Senate seat in peace and quiet anymore. And you can't allow an entire industry to go down because its leadership is lousy, can you? Think where your industry would be if that standard was applied.
So if we're really gonna bail out the big three in spite of all the good reasons not to, I'm glad, for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with all the good reasons not to.
First of all, people work there. A lot of people. Yeah, they belong to Unions, which are part of the problem and should be punished! Them and their damn high salaries. So tempting to see them whacked around a little, huh? Those super-rich blue collar workers with their high-paying Union jobs. Let's get 'em! And their families. And their communities. And the stores they shop at. And the schools that their property taxes help to keep going.
Well, I guess if there's a bailout of some kind, the Unions are going to have to eat some of the salary and benefits they've won from Management over the years. They'll have to, to make the system level again, probably. In the meantime? Bail them out, I say. Each and every one of them. Let's make sure they don't lose their homes and feed the vortex of disaster. I don't care if we're investing in a broken down model or helping people who make more money than you think they should. I like the idea of several hundred thousand people staying on the job, paying their mortgages, buying flat-screen TVs, shoes and hamburger.
I also like the idea of the Big Three, back in some kind of business now, really having to sell a whole bunch of those ill-considered and very comfortable gas-guzzlers that are so reprehensible and dumb to have built but still, smell very nice when they're new. Because in order to sell them, they're going to have to advertise on all the media that are right now sucking the hose and missing the massive chunk of revenue automotive advertising represents. I like to think of all those ads keeping Madison Avenue up nights working, instead of laying people off, and all the television, cable, radio, Internet and other media people running to fill the orders, earning enough bread to purchase one of the idiotic vehicles we really shouldn't be making.
I like the idea of money being spent on companies that make something other than money, that produce a product other than a financial instrument, and maybe even putting a halt, even temporarily, to the incredible, screaming descent in which we are now engaged.
Finally, I don't believe anybody's analysis about anything, frankly. A couple of weeks ago, people were ridiculing the idea of simply printing more money to stablize the economy. Stupid! Boneheads! Simplistic boobies! Yesterday I read a Nobel Prize winning economist who suggested we do precisely that, and cited several excellent sources for his view. He may be right. He may be wrong. Who knows? I do know one thing. I know that nobody knows.
In short, there's no opinion out there right now that's worth more than any other. If ignorance was bliss we'd all be tap dancing down Wall Street.
So until we figure out what's really going on? Let's try to use the money we have to help the greatest number of people. And let's start from the bottom, for a change.