Call me crazy on this, but I do not feel the same anxiety about helping the Big Three that I did about the banks.
I supported the bank bailout because, well, we kind of had to. Banks are the engine of the economy and we all have a vested interest in seeing them survive. Without solid banking in the US, the world hits depression quickly. I believed it had to be done, but I did not have to like it.
The automakers are kind of a different story. Basically they followed the rules. The market wanted larger vehicles and that's what the Big Three gave them. The unions wanted strong salary and benefit deals and for the most part harmony has been maintained with them. You have to give credit to an industry that keeps good labor relations, satisfies the market, and turns a slim profit every once in awhile. Sure they do make some bad decisions, but they work on a much more slim profit margin than almost anyone else.
Fact is that this is a national security issue as well as an economic one. We need to remember that during wartime, we will need these factories to churn out tanks rather than automobiles. Of course we have seen jobs being sent to Mexico over the past decade, but perhaps we can reverse that.
Instead of a bailout, let us increase the number and call it something else. Call it a reinvestment. Instead of giving them enough to help them get by, let's set them up for the future. To stay in the United States, auto plants must completely modernize in the same fashion as the coal industry. How much will it take to get these operations into the twenty-first century while giving the UAW enough to make sure that these workers have a soft place to land, or can retrain? This would not only help automakers, but also invigorate our technology sector.
In return, for the next ten years, each American who can prove they paid taxes in 2009 should get a $200 rebate when they purchase a new vehicle from the Big Three. This would be a one time rebate. The federal government should also be able to count on very good deals from automakers providing vehicles in that same time span.
I just don't think that we can allow automakers to just go down the tubes. It doesn't make sense on a number of levels.