Taking Hostages

Unlike the banking crisis, where most of us only kind of believe that it’s necessary to pay gamblers to keep gambling, the thought of the American auto industry grinding to a halt comes with a little trepidation and a whole ton of Schadenfreude. On some level it’s nice to see that after nearly 100 years of total and utter worker, environmental, and intellectual (via ads) exploitation, the Big Three are getting their just desserts.

Maybe.

The writing has been on the wall for an industry who 40 years ago laughed a
t the notion that reliable, fuel efficient cars from Japan would ever find a place in the bigger, faster, stronger American automotive market; until they got their asses kicked throughout the 80s.

The last Big Three car I bought was a Ford Escort. It was, like,
an 86. I found out the hard way that Ford was continuing to rely on planned obsolesce to sell it’s cars. The engine seized because the timing belt snapped. In “Japanese” cars (most of which by now are made in the U.S. by American workers), this would be an expensive repair bill but wouldn’t require a new car purchase.


So by the mid-90s the Big Three had suffered 80s amnesia and started cranking out cars that was laughably bigger than any 70s monstrosity. And they pushed them, that’s the real point. Rather than mimicking the success of those inferior yellow bastards in the Pacific, the Big Three decided to sink every nickel they had into promoting exorbitantly priced boats that were almost as fuel efficient as the late 70s gas guzzlers. I’ve always wondered how much a car would cost minus ads.

Now after squandering billions in ads and dividends they want us to pay for re-tooling factories to make cars they could have started making 30 years ago.


Yay.

But this is the thing. Unlike bankers, who can only threaten in economist language not real enough to most of us, the auto industry can say, “Look, we will put ONE MILLION people out of work, take our profits, and retire. We do not really care that much.”

My suggestion? Let ‘em.

The auto industry needs to finally fail in a big way. After protectionist tariffs, subsidies, tax breaks (I could go on) they’re clearly not pulling their economic weight. It would be cheaper to double unemployment payments to the displaced workers, take over pension payments and sell the factories to people less afraid of innovation and of having to earn their keep. It would also put the final nail in the UAW’s coffin, something that’s been a long time coming.

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