Friday, November 21, 2008

Time To Bail Out

On the bail out, if you ask me. Especially for the Detroit automakers. Here's a little clue if you are going somewhere to try and bum some money: Do NOT take a private jet to the meeting. Or three. Especially when just ONE of the jets costs a cool $36 MILLION dollars. Or when one of the bums looking for some cash makes $27 MILLION A YEAR. And has completely mismanaged the business, ya know, since he's out begging for the feds - scratch that - US - to bail him out. Wanna guess how much a First class ticket costs from Detroit to Washington, DC? $837. Know how much it cost them to fly their jets? $20,000. Yet they spent tens of thousands of dollars taking their private jets. They couldn't even carpool. Yeah, they are making a really good case for themselves. Hahahaha! I think that was Rep. Gary Ackerman's point here:

Just to be clear - because there seems to be some major confusion about this - the $25 gazillion the US Automaker "Like my cool jet?" guys want is IN ADDITION TO $25 BILLION already available to them for R&D/retooling. Get that? It has NOTHING to do with them making a green car, or making cars people want to buy. Huh uh. This is just for them to pay their employee benefits, like their pensions. So, while the rest of us are losing our retirement portfolios down the toilet while the DOW crashes and burns, we - WE - are supposed to pay the pensions for people making $83 an hour for a boss who makes $27 million a YEAR????? (Gee - I wonder what would have happened had their been any oversight of Fannie or Freddie?? If maybe ACORN hadn't pushed for all of those sub-prime mortgages?? Just a thought...)

And here's another thing. GM added $1,600 PER VEHICLE to compensate for employee benefits. So what happened to that money?? Now, I know people can argue, and I would myself, that the unions have lost perspective in their demands. I mean, really - should someone who builds cars really make over $80 an hour??? I mean, nice for them and all, but from what I understand, their jobs are highly repetitive and their equipment is all ergonomic, thus not requiring a lot of thought (this information comes to me from a source who has been inside a Chrysler plant). If the union prices their employees out of their jobs, and the executives mismanage the money so grossly, WHY should we be stuck paying their compensation?? Did the Enron employees get their pensions reinstated? No.

Now, don't get me wrong - I think unions can do a LOT of good, especially when workers are being mistreated. But when people are getting paid more money than many university professors, or nurses, or social workers, or just about anyone who has paid for a higher education, and then expect THOSE people to make up their benefits while losing their own, the unions have lost their way.

And the executives are to blame for mismanaging their businesses. I understand that US automakers employ a lot of people. So do the Japanese and German automakers in the US. The latter are BUILDING plants, not looking at bailouts or bankruptcy. That should be a big ol' clue that something is amiss.

Those execs have not cut back on their salaries, they have not utilized recent green technology, they have not designed cars that appeal to Americans. The unions have not made concessions to cost. But we should keep propping them up anyway? Who does that help? Well, the people making $27 mil, or $160,000 a year making cars, but how does that help the average taxpayer who is losing their job, or their house, or their car, or their pension, or health insurance?

And to give credit where credit is due, the Democrats were not all that impressed with the presentation of these three automakers, as Rep. Ackerman's comments above would demonstrate. They were sent back to come up with some plans that would merit them getting the money. That begs the question why they did not HAVE plans prior to their trip to Congress. If that is an indication of how they conduct business, well, it's pretty damning. (I might add, just now, I looked up as this whole issue was being discussed on the news, and these big machines were installing major parts into the cars. My immediate response was, "Wait - those MACHINES are doing a lot of the work - what's the deal here??? Just saying.)

So, the Detroit Three executives are on their way back to Detroit - on their three private jets - to figure out how the hell they will justify an ADDITIONAL $25billion. From the way they have conducted themselves this past week (and many weeks prior), it better be a damn good plan...