News and views from the award-winning author of the Class H Trilogy: AMERICA LIBRE, HOUSE DIVIDED and PANCHO LAND

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Government bailout of Detroit won’t save jobs

Those who think a government bailout of Detroit’s Big Three will save jobs should think again. This from today’s New York Times:

“G.M., the world’s largest automaker for decades, said Tuesday that it was in such dire straits that it would deeply cut jobs, factories, brands and executive pay as part of its plea to get $12 billion in federal loans and an additional $6 billion line of credit.”

Yes, Detroit’s Big Three are asking Washington once again for help. And their collective request for a handout has escalated from $25 billion to $34 billion.

Sound scary? It gets worse: There are some in Congress who want to approve the bailout, pending their review of the plan auto industry leaders have proposed. With all due respects to Ms. Pelosi, the U.S. government has had a balanced budget only three of the last fifty years. Should we expect prudent fiscal oversight from a body known famously for pork and earmarks?

Few would argue the U.S. economy is purely capitalistic. The government has justifiably intervened in business affairs in the past. But this has typically been to regulate industry and ensure a level playing field – or to protect the environment from rampant plunder.

This whole congressional bailout will soon become a snarl of details and horse trading. But for me, the bottom line is this: The bailout or loan or whatever they choose to call it, will keep the current leadership in place. In my view, it's time to clean house in Detroit. Period.

I know full well this will cause economic suffering. And it will touch my family and community, I might add. But all we are doing with this corporate welfare is keeping Detroit on life support. The collapse is inevitable. We need to direct our resources in new directions. Alternative energy, medtech, and other emerging technologies will eventually create more jobs than the ones we will lose from the demise of GM. It's happened in the past. The U.S. lost its dominance in steel and electronics, to name just two. The jobs from these industries have been replaced with better-paying, cleaner ones.

What is happening today is nothing new. I am ready to embrace the future, even if it means some pain today.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez