Hmmm. . . so who wins, who loses, who pays, who . . .?

I’ve seen an awful lot of ink lately on Detroit and I still haven’t found a clear statement of alternatives and their consequences.

The NYT editorial this morning, argues among other things, that:

Unpalatable as it seems to underwrite the proven record of failure of Detroit’s automakers, Congress must provide sufficient money to shore them up until the Obama administration takes office. Then, the new president and new Congress can decide how to manage either a rescue package with tight strings attached or a bankruptcy process that ensures the fallen companies have a reasonable shot at picking up the pieces.

Maybe that’s by way of admitting that none of us really understand all the consequences. I know the gut reaction against the term “bailout” – but “bailout” means very different things to different people and we need to be specific. There also seems to be an assumption that “bankruptcy” somehow punishes them for their sins, and so is appropriate. But it seems to me bankruptcy screws a lot of innocent people – people who run small companies whose survival is tied to the auto industry and who are owed money by this industry. So why not let the Big 3 just vanish? That too has it’s hidden problems – including the need for the taxpayer to pick up something like $23 billion in retirement benefits. I had no idea there was a program protecting these benefits, but apparently there is. Sounds good because I don’t like the idea of the retirees getting screwed. But the bottom line remains – this is a very complex issue.

Giving them a “few bucks” while we figure it all out sounds good to me. Yes, I’m being cavalier about the “few bucks.” We’re talking billions. But when we can continue to throw billions into the mess we made in Iraq, I don’t see why we can’t take a chance on doing something risky close to home and buying some time to come up with a better, more meaningful answer to the Detroit problem.

Meanwhile, I wonder if these idiots will fly back to Washington on their private jets when they make their next trip to the public trough?


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