The Wheels Turn on Auto Bailout
Riptide has been driving around in a weird little Japanese car that gets 32 mpg highway, listening to NPR talk about the problems of America's automobile industry -- which is basically that more and more people are driving around in weird little Japanese cars that have better design and more efficient fuel mileage, and as a result, Detroit's big three auto makers could be headed for bankruptcy in the midst of an already-unruly economic crisis.
We think Detroit should have listened to Chanel designer/photographer/book publisher/gothic dandy/our personal hero Karl Lagerfeld back in the Nineties, when he quiped, "The reason American cars don't sell anymore is that they have forgotten how to design the American Dream. What does it matter if you buy a car today or six months from now, because cars are not beautiful. That's why the American auto industry is in trouble: no design, no desire."
But it's too late for that, and the Big Three are going to have to listen to whatever the government tells them.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (today is officially Astronaut Senator day on Riptide), has supported the potential bailout under the condition that the companies' fleets get 40 mpg by 2018 and 50 mpg by 2020, and that -- in slightly different words -- the current executives go fuck off and die.
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Sen. Mel Martinez really has no idea what to do. "No one wants to see the American automobile industry fail," he says. "But equally, no one wants to see taxpayer dollars put at risk in an investment that is at best risky and perhaps destined to fail." Ultimately he thinks the auto industry ought to be given the $25 bill somehow, just not out of the original bailout. He has no stated position on whether executives should fuck off and die.
Under free market principles, we should just let the industry die its painful death, but we don't really live in a true free market economy. Is our market ready to absorb the up to three million jobs that could be lost if the Big Three fall? Nope. Nelson's Frankensteinian idea of cobbling together the dying remains of these companies into a big green monster sounds appealing, but is it worth $25 billion?
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