Saturday, November 15, 2008

No good night kiss tonight...

Oh my. Sean is not happy with me. Michael is not happy with me. I am not entirely happy with me.

We had the, “Should the government give loans to the car industry?” talk a few minutes ago. “If GM doesn’t get the money it will go bankrupt. Who’s going to buy cars from a bankrupt company?” said Sean. “And they have to keep making the Corvette!” said Michael. “Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the job of government is to float loans to car companies,” said I.

A brouhaha ensued. I will not recount the gory details here, but suffice it to say my boys are not speaking to me.

No one wants to see GM, Ford or Chrysler go out of business, least of all someone whose husband works for one of them. It would be devastating for the country’s economy and the personal economy of nearly everyone I know. Millions of people would be out of a job and the ripple effect would be felt far beyond Detroit. And there is a humongous part of me that wants to see Congress give the loans to the Big Three because I don't want to see the once-mighty GM file for Chapter 11.

But when I unemotionally (and believe me, that’s a trick) look at the issue there is no way I could support the loans. I don’t think Congress should have given the loans to Chrysler in the 80’s, I don’t think they should have passed the $700 billion bailout last month for Wall Street, and I don’t think they ought to do it for my husband’s beloved industry. What in the world is Congress doing messing around in private businesses? Like they’ve ever solved anything or done anything with great efficiency…

If the loans go through one way I’ll soothe myself is knowing that Congress is partly to blame for GM’s demise. Their complete lack of gumption to do anything about Japan’s manipulation of the yen, the passage of onerous laws (CAFE standards, anyone?) and a refusal to address the corporate tax rate have done little to help the domestic auto industry.

The bottom line, though, is the government has defined roles and giving money to companies on the brink of bankruptcy isn’t one of them. I know that view won’t win me many friends at GM, but it might make America a better country for my children.


Michael Barone's wrote an interesting piece about this yesterday.