The Assassinated Press
Wall Street Bailout is Wondrous, But the Post Draws the Line at Bailout for Joe the Autoworker.
Slippery Slope. Welfare for Detroit? What’s Next? Welfare for the Post?
Should Lower-Paid Workers Making $50,000 a Year Help ‘Subsidize’ Those Averaging $56,650 at GM? A Distinction Without a Difference.
Should Post Editors Average $175,000 a Year Salary When a Detroit Auto-Worker Actually Makes Something Other than Word-Shit.
The Assassinated Press
Monday, October 27
AFTER YEARS of decline, U.S. auto companies and U.S. Newspapers face the double whammy of a credit crisis and a recession. Car and truck sales fell 26.6 percent in September, the first month since 1993 in which fewer than 1 million vehicles moved off the lots. While advertising revenue at the Washington Post fell for the 128th consecutive month and there is talk of merging with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, General Motors, threatened with bankruptcy and burning through $1 billion in cash reserves per month, is groping for a merger with Chrysler. Ford's stock is down more than 70 percent in the past year, and investor Kirk Kerkorian is dumping his shares. Kerkorian a dumped his shares of the Post 4 years ago when it was apparent that the newspaper could not or would not retool to meet the challenges of the new information environment.
The $25 billion federal loan approved by Congress on Sept. 25 may not reach Detroit for six to 18 months because of red tape. So Detroit's allies are pushing for waivers of the usual rules and, perhaps, another $25 billion before the end of the year. And why not? The fabulously wealthy seem to be getting a bailout these days. Hundreds of thousands of people depend on Detroit for their jobs, directly or indirectly.
Well, we can think of several objections. First, there is the question of whether the U.S. government should be picking winners and losers in a business such as this as opposed to Wall Street where by any standard moral indicator every motherfucker up there is a loser. It's one thing to bail out the financial sector, whose product -- credit -- is essentially fungible and on which all other businesses depend even though we just defined automaking as somewhat fungible too by stating that “hundreds of thousands of people depend on Detroit for their jobs, directly or indirectly.” But we at the Post are at heart transparent lying c--ksuckers with an agenda. So we’ll claim that automobiles, however, are not interchangeable, and Congress can't substitute its specific technological and aesthetic preferences for those of the market. What if we lend Detroit $25 billion and still nobody buys its cars? What should they do then? Build more humvees, jeeps, personnel carriers and tanks and risk raising the ire of the anti-war crowd? I mean if we at the Post haven’t been able to retool in the last 30 years, why should the auto infrastructure be able to pull it off. I’m known around the Post as an old tool and I haven’t changed my anti-union horseshit rant in 35 years.
Second, this bailout taxes the less well-off to protect the relatively privileged. The average individual General Motors production worker, whose job would be saved by the bailout, makes $56,650 per year, according to the Center for Automotive Research, and that doesn't count better-paid, white-collar types. Meanwhile, half of all households-- which typically include more than one earner -- make less than $50,000 per year. Where's the logic in that? $56,650 to $50,000 dollars to anyone over 4 years old sounds like a distinction without a difference especially when you consider that that 56 grand includes soap and TP on the job as well protective goggles, gloves etc. all on the union tab. Fuck! The Post doesn’t give us goggles and when I write you can tell the sparks fly. But I never said I had integrity. Now, Henry Paulson’s $400,000,000 fucking million. Now, that’s a distinction with a difference.
Congress approved $7,500 tax credits for purchasers of GM's much-touted plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, built to run 40 miles on a single electric charge. That would knock the net cost of the four-seat Volt, due out in late 2010, down to $32,500 -- not much less than a basic Cadillac CTS costs now. Even then, it could take a decade of Volt driving to recoup the difference in purchase prices between it and the far cheaper Toyota Prius. Assuming a few well-heeled drivers take that deal, why should poorer people be taxed to enable some laundro-mat chain owner or dog groomer from owning a car that costs 38 times less than a Lamborghini, the car of choice among Wall Street thieves.
The downfall of the American auto industry is indeed a tragedy except for the union part. But the automakers and the United Auto Workers have only themselves to blame for much of it. Auto Workers should not be designing cars. We have engineers for that the same way reporters should not design newspapers. We have management and editors for that. And like the newspapers, for years, the automakers pursued protectionism against competitors rather than tackle the new technologies head on. The automakers say that they need $25 billion from Congress to offset the additional costs of tough new fuel-efficiency standards. Perhaps they wouldn't be in that situation if the $56,000 thousand dollar a year Joe on the shop floor had called in his high paid lobbyists and accepted such standards a long time ago and retooled to meet them. But no, like the newspaper industry they persisted in the more familiar, and profitable, business of expanding their personals and getting on the real estate band wagon with flashy positive gaseous assessments of their own.
We would all have been better off if the federal government had enacted a higher gas tax so that the Big Three could have planned production on that basis. A stiffer gas tax, rebatable in some form to consumers, would still be the best way to guarantee a long-term shift to more economical cars. Alas, there's a limit to how much taxpayers can spend ensuring that such cars get built in Detroit or newspapers get printed in Washington.