Ford, GM, Chrysler

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I was shocked to hear a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll showing 61% of Americans opposed to bailing out U.S. automakers.

This was disturbing to me because it seems that even after the fallout of what has become a staggering $8.5 trillion dollar bailout package, some folks are still thinking along the lines of the failed free market ideology, that the markets somehow should magically sort the mess out in our auto industry.  Another stated reason for opposing the auto bailout is that folks feel it will be unfair to taxpayers.  

What’s happening in Washington and Wall Street today is so far beyond fair, so far beyond normal circumstances and any cited resemblance to the proverbial “marketplace” is laughable.  New thinking and new perspectives are demanded.  

Letting GM, Ford and Chrysler go bankrupt will send shockwaves of unemployment through an economy in triage-losing millions of good paying jobs in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression is unacceptable and inhumane.  

In historical terms, it would be helpful to take inventory of where we are at to determine just how unprecedented of a crisis this is.  Let’s put the gargantuan $8.5 trillion dollar bailout package commitments into perspective.  Here are some of the massive projects our nation has embarked upon and what they cost as Western Standard reports:

The current bailout has cost more than all of these major government expenditures combined:

• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion / Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion

• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million / Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion

• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion / Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion

• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion / Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion

• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion / Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion

• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est) / Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)

• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551 billion / Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion

• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion

• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

Total:  US$ 3.92 trillion (inflation adjusted)

World War II in today’s dollars at $3.6 trillion is less than half what the financial bailout is now being projected to cost!

We have to accept the fact that as a nation we are practically at war to save our economy and we are all in this together.

Why We Can’t Let Ford, GM and Chrysler Go:

•  Our trade deficit needs to go down-not up. Estimates put our national trade deficit at $830 billion dollars/ year, a massive transfer of wealth sucking out of our country which has to be stopped.  If we let go of our U.S. automakers, we will increase this trade deficit by billions upon billions, the opposite direction of where we need to go.

•  Jobs, jobs, jobs.  With our economy in ravages, we cannot afford to let millions of more Americans go unemployed.  We need to protect and retain employment as a priority to recover and rebuild our economy.

•  National Security and Self-Determination.  A healthy economy is one that is diversified, and part of that diversification should include a sizable portion of every industrial sector to be domestically produced.  Wittling down our U.S. owned domestic manufacturing sector to the point of nonexistence is an existential threat to national security as it is a question of self-determination.  Slowly transforming our economy into a debt-serviced service sector of wage-earning consumers, producing nothing, buying all things foreign and leveraged to the gills, will bankrupt our nation.  America hollowed out into a debt shell, and letting America become a wholly-owned foreign subsidiary is not a good plan for our future.    

The U.S. automakers definitely need to restructure to reduce capacity, build hybrid greener cars instead of gas guzzlers, and collaborate with unions to cut costs and create successful business models for the future.  A survivable and healthy relationship with our environment necessitates this retooling.  This can all be included as legislative conditions in the bailout package, after all, the Big Three are requesting to take us on as partners.  But when we have suffered continual national trade deficits since the 70s compounding our country into default, for many decades the stewardship to our economy by elected officials and corporate leaders has been lame.  Politicians are being paid off to not pay attention to all the behind closed door deals being made at the expense of everyday Americans.  Enough is enough.  

The kind of thinking and policies passed that have allowed the unregulated reckless behavior of our banks and financial sector go unchecked was not by accident; many made many millions.  In the years to come, we should really reflect on what got us in this mess and take steps to prevent it from ever threatening us again.  The political decision making process needs to be insulated and compartmentalized so as to prevent external manipulation that serves greedy agendas.  A wall of separation needs to be erected to preserve our representative’s ability to be neutral arbiters of what should be done for the benefit of our people and our nation.  

With this separation of buck and state, maybe then we could prevent fiscal opportunists from ever “Enron-izing” the American economy again.

What do you think about this crisis?  

Do you see any evidence of the recession around you?