Cartoon Tuesday: More Car (Company) Trouble

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Cartoonist Mark Fiore has more fun with Detroit this week. Click through for what to do when your car company breaks down.

We’ve noticed that, in the midst of all the Big Three bashing, some are wondering how white-collar institutions like Citigroup can secure so much money from the feds while the blue-collar-employing automakers are made to beg. Here’s Leo W. Gerard of the Huffington Post expounding an increasingly popular meme:

The message here could not be more clear: Washington will bailout out
those who shower before work but not those who shower afterwards.

Detroit is a place where workers are unionized; Wall Street is not. And
right-wing Republicans and conservative pundits have made it clear they
want the union workers to suffer. They want federal aid denied to the
Big Three so that the firms go bankrupt. Then the companies can renege
on pensions they guaranteed to retirees and can break salary and
benefit promises to workers in current contracts.

Are union sympathies driving the backlash against the backlash? Or could it be some sort of Jedi mind trick perpetrated by seemingly hapless Detroit?

  • If the financial system collapses, the entire economy collapses. That is why it is more important to save financial companies than manufacturing companies.

    According to today’s NY Times, if a company goes bankrupt, the Federal gov’t becomes responsible for the pensions. Thus (as someone here is in the habit of pointing out) those of us who have no pensions and have to get by on social security, have to pay for the retirement of those who retire early with some of the country’s best pensions.

  • Whether the entire economy collapses because one, any, or all the major financial institutions collapse is hardly a settled matter.

    Rachel Maddow had a good point (though not an explanation) that citi has far fewer people’s jobs dependent on it than the big three, so if you’re looking for economic bang for your bailout buck, the stinky old auto makers seem to be a better bet.

    I think that there are a number of reasons why public support for a citi bailout is higher than for a Big Three bailout (somewhat pervasive anti-union sentiment, the fact that this isn’t their first bailout, environmental concerns). But the reason why there’s resistance in Washington to an auto-maker bailout is that there’s pretty widespread resistance among the electorate.

    It’s hard to say this as an environmentalist, but I think the progressive message we need to repeat is that the big three need to be saved.

    BUT, if they want our money they’ll have to make major reforms, including increased focus on fuel efficiency and vehicles for mass transit.

  • The question of an entire economic collapse can only settled be by having one. It is not some minor point of debate; that possibility is the only reason the bailout passed. It was a controversial measure that did not have public support (or my support), but ultimately congress passed it because they were afraid not to. Some industries (and cable tv personalities of the month) seem to think this means the candy store is open. But there is no candy store, because there is no candy. Only debt. To frame the argument as industries competing for their share—when the bailout was about giving every sector of the economy a chance to recover its self—is silly and irresponsible, a good example of why the livable streets movement should not tie itself to what passes for progressivism in the US. Yesterday it’s was all about ice caps and highway deaths, today it’s imperative to nationalize automobile companies and build electric cars for the suburbs. I will stick with the ice caps and highway deaths, thanks.

  • Miguel Marcos

    > Are union sympathies driving the backlash against the backlash?

    I think so. I also think the unions are partially responsible for not pushing the automakers to build better fuel-saving and less noxious cars. They worked for them, they (presumably) took pride in their work and products, well then, what happened?

  • Those who want to save and reform the car companies, how will you do it? The Washington Post says that a plugin hybrid car costs $8000 extra just for the battery. Average people won’t pay for that unless you jack up gas taxes, which again is a matter of people affording it.

    Washington Post: The Car of the Future — but at What Cost?

    If you really care about jobs, you should support more transit, not the car companies. That will create jobs all across the country, and they won’t move overseas.

  • Lee

    >Those who want to save and reform the car companies, how will you do it? The >Washington Post says that a plugin hybrid car costs $8000 extra just for the >battery. Average people won’t pay for that unless you jack up gas taxes, >which again is a matter of people affording it.

    Average people don’t buy cars outright, they finance them. Better financing strategy to encourage this technology to be affordable to everyone that we want to be buying it. Taxes could subsidize the difference. The Suburban car-driving lifestyle is subsidized in so many other ways, why not this one new twist?

    On the other hand it might be wiser to subsidize land-use patterns and transportation infrastructure that require less dependence on the use of cars in the first place. Suppose we took all these billions towards a nationalized gov’t effort to build a national web of copenhagen-style bikeways interlinked with high-speed rail connecting rebuilt and revitalized walkable urban centers. Local farming. Put the exurbs to work farming again, as well as urban factories. Extend every family a low-interest loan for an inexpensive new cargo-bike (bakfiets) and Rowhouse or family farm. Free healthcare, social safety nets, etc. Tax the suburban, SUV-driving upper class who can afford that lifestyle. Telecommute.

    In other words invest in the means of production rather than the means of consumption, in order to bring the two back into balance.

  • One measure that won’t cost a penny is to remove parking requirements from building permits. Let the builder decide how many parking spots to build. That will result in more and cheaper homes, less sprawl and cheaper commutes.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “If you really care about jobs, you should support more transit, not the car companies. That will create jobs all across the country, and they won’t move overseas.”

    One of the arguments is favor of subsidizing automakers is all the backward and forward linkages carmaking has in the economy.

    Against this, consider the money saved by a lifestyle in which families own one car instead of two or three, and others avoid car ownership altogether. What is the money saved used for? And what is the local and U.S. value added of that, compared with autos, gas and oil?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    For the record, and not that it matters a whole lot but, re:”According to today’s NY Times, if a company goes bankrupt, the Federal gov’t becomes responsible for the pensions. Thus (as someone here is in the habit of pointing out) those of us who have no pensions and have to get by on social security, have to pay for the retirement of those who retire early with some of the country’s best pensions.”

    -don’t worry about the pension envy you are developing after a constant brow-beating by L. Littlefield. If the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. takes over the GM pensions no one will “retire early with some of the country’s best pensions”. They will instead retire with the PBGC minimums that are substantially below the best in the country. They will provide a basic retirement pension that may or may not be better than your particular pension or 401K deal depending on what you have got. In fact GM doesn’t have to go entirely bankrupt to push their pension into the PBGC but that is one of the likely scenarios. PBGC is essentially an insurance company run by the government and in a perfect world wouldn’t really bother your tax nut, however, the PBGC was substantially broke before the meltdown, where it is now is anyone’s guess though they are a likely bailout target themselves. In the short term pension fiduciaries have asked the Congress to forgo recent changes in pension regulations that will trigger underfunding requirements because of the economic crisis.

  • Take all mutual fund brochures and toss them in the garbage.

    That’s the best possible fist step      

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