Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bailing out the Auto Industry

I was just thinking about the hearings today and had a thought. If the domestic automakers were to be allowed to fail and were perhaps bought up by foreign companies, we would see even less political support for cars and car infrastructure than we do today. Perhaps with no major domestically owned auto companies (plenty of foreign owned companies have production here, typically in non-unionized or hard to unionize sections of the country), we might find larger support for mass transit, rail, cycling, walking, and the infrastructure improvements that would improve those options.

That said, I'm for a bailout, if only because it's much cheaper than the costs associated with letting them fail including, depression in the upper midwest, which just voted strongly for Obama (hello lefties!), destruction of the parts industries that feed into the auto makers including mining electrical, and others, and of course, a cleaning out of one of the most unionized sections of the country. The UAW has been a leader in worker rights in this century and though none of us have the benefits of an autoworker, we all benefit from their contracts when it comes to weekends, vacation pay, etc.

It's also telling that the senator working hardest against the bailout is Richard Shelby of Alabama who has factories in his state owned by Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, and Hyundai; none of which are unionized, but must pay at least competitively thanks to union contracts negotiated by the UAW. Take away that support and what will happen? It's not like Senator Shelby is pro union. He is pro Alabama, whatever that means.

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