Friday, December 5, 2008

Waiting for Something

Today was yet another what's-the-opposite-of-rare opportunity for national and international talking heads (it is 10:30 pm in CA and 1:30 am in MI so I am forced to watch CNBC World) to rip into the Detroit-based automobile industry based on errant information and flawed catchphrases because of today's Congressional testimony of Wagoner, Ford, and Mulally. Being me and so narcissistic that I have invented my own blog because I know that everyone is just dying to read my thoughts, I have just a few thoughts to add to the day.

First, I want to acknowledge Ron Gettlefinger and the UAW for, at least verbally, accepting in public and vocally that they are willing to make significant concessions. Some may say that the prospect of these concessions is not enough and that they are long overdue, but this is not an easy thing to accept for a union, and I can understand how the UAW fears that it will become a slippery slope toward completely giving up a decent standard of living. This is in stark contrast to my earlier post about Ron Gettlefinger and the UAW, and this is one instance in which I am happy to eat some delicious, delicious crow. Issues like union concessions, even for the purposes of survival, are not as black and white as I, and others, would prefer to assume.

Next, I want to present the simplest case for supporting a bailout that I possibly can - going beyond the massive job loss, significant reduction in domestic manufacturing capacity and output, destruction of domestically engineered and produced technologically for moving away from foreign oil, blah, blah, blah...According to this article from The New York Times, GM has $85B in pension obligations (obligations that they currently have the capacity to pay from their pension fund). In the event of GM bankruptcy, these pension obligations will likely be transferred to the Pension Guarantee Corp., an organization responsible for ensuring pension payments. Let's say GM, Ford, and Chrysler combined eventually require 2 times their current request from taxpayers (total of $72B), which I hope is an aggressive assumption. That is still $13B less than GM's pension obligations alone. And do you know where the money from the Pension Guarantee Corp. comes from? U.S. Taxpayers (and also borrowed from other countries)! I'm not saying this is a good thing, but the math on this issue alone is pretty straightforward. This is only one of several similar examples where the cost of a loan, while painful, is significantly less than the cost of the alternative. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but it is true.

Finally, I just want someone to make some sort of decision and allow the people affected by this decision to figure out the next steps in their lives. Loans, Chapter 11, Chapter 7, nuclear bombing, whatever the heck it ends up being, there are millions and millions of Americans and non-Americans who need a decision. America may be suffering from "bailout fatigue", but those affected by this decision are suffering from "will I have my job tomorrow, will my home be worth anything, when will people stop hating my state, why do people hate my state, will I be forced to move away from my family, will my kids be able to grow up in my home state fatigue." I hope the cards fall in our direction, but even if they don't, I just need someone to push them one way or the other.

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