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Up until last night, I was adamantly against bailing out Big Auto.  From a practical viewpoint, it seems like a terrible idea -- throwing good money after bad, wasting money that could and should be used for better things, propping up a dying, wasteful behemoth of an industry that has done everything in its power to resist looking into the future ....

Then I stumbled across a little piece of propaganda making the rounds.  This notion that UAW workers in Detroit make $70 an hour.  I'd seen it everywhere, and I hadn't really questioned it.  I figured, okay, if everybody's saying it in all the news media, it's probably true.  How could they so brazenly lie about a fact such as that?  Well, it turns out it WAS a lie.  So I wrote about it last night, here:

Do you think UAW workers make $70 an hour?

When I wrote this, I was still against the bailout.  Then, someone named LeftHandedMan posted a comment which blew my mind.  Follow me over the bump.

He wrote:

I hear ya (16+ / 0-)

there are a ton of flat-out lies and bullshit being passed around.

The GOP never dreamed it would get to kill a massive part of organized labor and have an entire region of the country completely collapse on the Democratic parties watch to boot, but that is just the opportunity that has arisen for the Limbaugh/Coulter wing of the GOP.

A 25 billion dollar loan, with strings attached mandating the auto industry stay the fuck out of monkeying with healthcare reform and making them go green or else, could save hundreds of billions of dollars in social spending over the next 10 years alone.

10 to 12 million jobs lost, boom!, 200 to 1 trillion dollars in emergency social spending to deal with the collapse's impact on the region, the UAW dead and Wal-Mart the biggest employer in the region, Michigan in full economic collapse and millions of voters ripe for being in play in the next round of the Culture War.

The GOP, and the media pundits who are all clamoring for Obama and the Congress to let the auto industry die will be damning us and running against the Democratic Party as the party that 'Let Michigan Die' or 'Let Detroit Die' for a generation if the auto industry is allowed to die.

The auto industry is 4% of our GDP.

If it goes, thats several years added on to the economic crisis that we face.

And probably Bobby Jindal in 2012 running as Ronnie Reagan on a white horse to "save" America.

And that's when I realized .... this isn't about practicality at all.  Sadly, this is about politics.  Once again, the Rethuglican Assholes of America Party is going to exploit this any way they can, and they will orchestrate any sort of horrible debacle in order to capitalize on it later.

So if we really want to look to the future, in a truly practical way -- and unfortunately being practical now involves figuring out how to thwart the Republican Fucktards who screw everything up -- we simply HAVE to keep them from doing this.

We have to stop the Reporklicans from destroying the Big Three, and their unions, so they can come in and "solve the problem" later.

Because that's what they do.  It's the Shock Doctrine at work -- again.  And Obama hasn't even been inaugurated yet.  Like the pirhanas they are, they're already snapping their teeth at merely the scent of a potential disaster they can push into fruition.  

That is why we have to stop them, and that is why we have to prop up Big Auto -- at least until Barack gets into office and saner, and less evil, minds can take over the the country.  Not because it's the "Right Thing To Do" but because if we don't, the Redorklicans are gonna run the country even deeper into a ditch AND take power because of it.

The worst thing about dealing with evil is the sheer amount of time and energy you have to put into keeping them at bay.  It's a real waste.  A serious waste of resources.

But unfortunately that's what we're dealing with now.  Evil bastards who will gleefully destroy Detroit, and one of the last great Unions in the country, just to gain political capital in the most negative and nasty way possible.

So let's do everything we can to stop them.  

Originally posted to Inky99 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:37 AM PST.

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  •  T.J. -- who's with me? (554+ / 0-)
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    •  I'm with you all the way. (176+ / 0-)
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      This is "Katrina" without the water. Lately, all I need to do is find out which way the Evil Empire is leaning, and then go the other way.

      •  A sympathetic motivation but we need to start (71+ / 0-)

        hearing some objective plans.  

        GM is losing $5 billion a month.  So even if they get half of this $25 billion it's only going to buy them and extra 2 1/2 months.

        If can take up to a decade to design, tool, and get into production even a modestly different new car line.

        This would require a $600 billion subsidy to buy that much time.  

        Switching to an electric or "something" we haven't thought of yet could take even longer.

        I'm convinced that losing 1 million jobs will be catastrophic.  But what is even a wildly optimistic brainstorming kind of plan of how these bailouts have any even remote possibility of making a difference.

        What products are they going to produce that consumers will buy.

        Also, folks are saying whose going to buy an American made car if they go into bankruptcy and we don't know if we can get replacement parts in five years.  

        An excellent point, but smart consumers are already going to figure out that delaying bankruptcy by 2 1/2 months is not going to make any difference in this logic.

        Short of very large trade barriers or tarrifs to force consumers not to buy higher quality, more reliable, higher mph and more attractive cars from Japan I don't see yet how these bailouts will help.

        But I'd love to hear some ideas rather than a back and forth between magical thinking versus ideological thinking.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:49:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think a decade (36+ / 0-)

          for retooling and re-designing is too pessimistic with the computer power that they have right now. Properly managed and lead, maybe they can start producing good cars in a year, optimistically, or maybe 2 years. Changing the culture of the company would be harder and this might take a decade.

          •  If they had the new product designed now they (31+ / 0-)

            migth be able to it 2 year for production Ajipon,if they took really drastic emergency type measures, but they don't have these products in the pipeline.

            But let's be wildly optimistic.  At the current loss rate of $5 billion a month  for GM (which will likely get worse before better) you'll need a $120 billion subsidy just for GM alone.

            And you'll still be trying to compete with superior Japanese made cars.  It's not just that the Japanese car are of higher quality, higher mpg, etc. but they seem to be improving at a faster rate.

            But now the Koreans have launched several lower end cars aimed at the less expensive market that the Japanese don't even want to compete against.

            What is the business model that says government intervention is going to make a difference?

            I'm not opposed to it, I'd just like to see a credible plan or argument.

            But I do give you credit for coming closer than anyone else with a two year estimate, although I think that's lower than has been achieved so far, even on modest redesigns.

            When I last worked for GM as a strategic consultant, the senior execs were astonished that Chrysler got the K-car out in three years mostly on the same platform and reusing 85% of the parts from existing production.

            So it's in the realm of plausibility but 5 - 7 years is more typical I think.

            And folks here are talking about new products now modest cosmetic redesigns like the Kcar.

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:28:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  supposedly GM has the VOLT almost ready (25+ / 0-)

              to roll out in 2010.

              If they were smart theyd be copying that AUDI Quattro that are on the roads in Japan.

              •  I'd love to see this. But then we should be (26+ / 0-)

                talking about a much more ambitious program that includes the necessary infrastructure like charging stations, tax credits etc.

                NPR described a Philidelphia High School that is winning awards with a viable all electric design, maybe called the "X-Car" but I don't here anyone talking about it.

                I'm all for something that will work.

                I just don't want to see Democrats blowing are new found fragile credibility by getting suckered into a disasterous boondoggled pushed on us by slick and desparate Big 3 CEOs.  

                Metaphorically, like if we heard the Titanic was half way sunk, and used stories about how disasterous this will be for transAtlantic passenger travel to pass legilation forbiding it to sink, or sending massive funding bills or something.

                Yes, let's save as many passengers (jobs) as we can.

                But also, realistically confront as tragic loss that we've seen coming for decades and did nothing about.  Perhaps, until it's too late.  

                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:03:32 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  totally agree. (6+ / 0-)
                •  GM sells good mileage small cars in Europe (54+ / 0-)

                  GM needs to retool for the longer term but they have cars they are selling in Europe right now that could be sold here. GM could make major changes to its American product mix without a length product design and testing.

                  I'm pleased to see that great comment by LeftHandedMan get the notice it deserved. Killing big auto will put our economy into a depression, IMO, if we let it happen. The stabilization of the economy cannot be done by propping up banks if large numbers of consumers are going bankrupt.

                  "It's the planet, stupid."

                  by FishOutofWater on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:17:51 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Not Really (8+ / 0-)

                     "but they have cars they are selling in Europe right now that could be sold here." Those high mileage turbo diesel small cars made in Europe don't meet EPA air quality standards. If they did, other European automakers would be sending them here.

                    •  They market non-diesel in Europe too. (14+ / 0-)

                      I think they could probably figure something out to adjust for the different regs - although I'd like a little more information about the regulations and how they are or are not out of synch before accepting that answer.  

                      The bottom line is that they have car designs for the European market that are superior to the stuff they sell here and I find it hard to believe that they would not be able to make modifications for this market faster on existing designs than to create brand new designs.

                      •  I can even see a slight pass on the EPA standards (6+ / 0-)

                        for a year or two if they could get something out there like the European models, provided they were PROVING they were working on it.  

                      •  Substantial changes to Diesels are needed... (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        gpclay, Shapeshifter, linkage

               meet EPA and it's even harder to meet a few state's requirements (such as California). The required changes are not "little tweaks" - new components and systems are required.

                        However, Mercedes-Benz (and others I imagine) has solved the problem with its BlueTec engine. Of course, consumers in the states that require AdBlue will have to remember to top off the urea tank every so often (like, I think, at every oil change).

                        Unfortunately, diesels are more expensive and technology such as BlueTec adds yet more initial and maintenance costs. These additional costs don't seem that significant on a $60K car, but on a $16K car, two or three thousand dollars is quite a bit. Although diesels get more MPG (20-30%?, but I don't recall where I got that number stuck in my head so it could be wrong), diesel costs (as of 11/17/2008) 35% more at the pump than gasoline - so it doesn't seem that the additional acquisition (and maintenance) costs would ever be recovered via fuel cost savings by the purchaser of a diesel.

                        •  Wow? You Can Recycle Pee in EuroDiesels? (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:


                          However, there are VW diesels in California right now that meet CA's strict standards.

                          Most of the 10 year scenarios for change proffered are just Bushite excuses trying to avoid talking about dumping American management idiots.

                          Management Goes... Money Flows.


                          The Bushiter's Iraq 2004 - 1268 Dead, about 25K Medivacs and 9000 Maimed... It's the Bushiter Way, wasting other people's money and lives. And it's worse now.

                          by RedMeatDem on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:24:26 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  That's Not A Huge Obstacle (19+ / 0-)

                      We are converting very quickly to low sulpher diesel, which will make it possible to build low-emission diesel vehicles. According to Wikipedia, "Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and others are expecting to begin producing diesel vehicles for the U.S. market to join those from Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen."

                      Obviously it will require some changes to current vehicles, but it's very possible nonetheless.


                      "There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order." -- Ed Howdershelt

                      by troutwaxer on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:15:00 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  But what are the differences between Euro regs (31+ / 0-)

                      and EPA/california ? Not much. The Ford diesel Fiesta, for instance, gets 79mpg, and has lower particulants than a Prius.
                      WHERE exactly is the problem ?

                      There are LOTS of cars in the pipeline,
                      and products coming closer and closer to the dealers.
                      Ford's Fusion hybrid, 45 mph+ on battery alone. Great stuff.

                      But nobody is buying ANYBODY'S cars right now,
                      because there is no credit, because the bailed-out banks are sitting on their cash. And the surplus imports are piling up at the ports. We're awash in foreign cars that can't be given away.


                      The reason the American makers need help is NOT because they can't make good cars - they do - it is because our economy is completely screwed up by Wall Street and Real Estate and the Fed and while we bail out the bankers, we have choked the ability of folks to buy anything.

                      THAT has caused American production to exceed demand, THAT has caused plants to close and Americans to lose their jobs.

                      It ain't a bail-out, it is a slaughterhouse, and the Republicans are holding the knives.

                      •  Makes me very much wonder (10+ / 0-)

                        What role Big Oil plays in all this. I mean, I'm not dumb. I can see the writing on the wall. Perhaps this is an opportunity to pull Big Oil's snakey tentacles out of Detroit once and for all.

                        I still root for the dreamer. I thank God for the dreamer ~ Mos Def, Lifetime

                        by alkalinesky on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:31:50 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  "Bipartisanship" is a charade (9+ / 0-)

                        Bond's posturing on the bailoutyesterday.  They want the (formerly) Big 3 to fail for the reasons Mittens set forth in his op-ed, they want to crush the UAW.

                        In order to compromise w/ people, there must be a sharing of some basic values w/ them.  We share no basic values w/ the GOP.

                        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

                        by RFK Lives on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:43:29 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Trouble both ways, it's not that easy (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          gpclay, linkage, Wild Starchild, fernan47

                          If you bail out, that leaves the same guys doing the same crap.  Guess what, we HAD electric cars over 10 years ago, and then when they got the laws changed back where they wanted them, they took back all those cars and shredded them.  There's one in a car museum someplace with no guts in it, just the shell.

                          So a bailout could very well mean that we will NOT get the technology we need, it'll stay buried and locked away in Big 3 vaults.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

                          I hear your fear for the economy and the unions, and how this is a Republican dream play to crush unions.  But, ? -- It's been suggested elsewhere that those big labor health costs should be assumed in a new health care plan for all Americans, Medicare for all.  So I want a bigger picture discussion.  I do support health care for all, and the Big 3 have already slashed wages.  What else can the unions give away?  It's already gone.  And I can't stand the thought of one more dollar going to Big 3 CEOs who ran everything into the ground except themselves.  In fact, I love the thought that all those dollars they raked in to themselves get more and more worthless the more no one else has them.  It's poetry at least.

                          You need to separate bailing out CEOs from bailing out labor.  Like Michael Moore said last night on Larry King, if we pay $25 billion then we should own it.  He supports bailing out the companies, throwing out the CEOs, and government taking control of what the Big 3 produce.  "We need the infrastructure."  "We don't need more crap built by Detroit."

                          Larry King Live: Michael Moore Talks About Auto Bailout (11/19/2008) 2/3

                          •  P.S. Larry King poll (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            gsbadj, linkage, elwior, Wild Starchild



                            Quick Vote
                            Should the government bail out the auto industry?
                            Yes 34% 2171  
                            No 66% 4284
                            Total Votes: 6455  

                            This is not a scientific poll

                          •  Not surprising (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            linkage, elwior

                            Who DOES want to spend billions to bail out an industry?  Remember the polls when they did the Wall Street bailout?

                            Change the wording a bit and it's a lot closer.

                            And you're right that the Government should be calling the tune on what they're going to be selling and how much their executives are getting paid.

                            "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

                            by gsbadj on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:31:56 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  P.S. Ashton Kutcher is brilliant!!! (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            lazbumm, Shapeshifter


                            The best idea I've heard in the last few days comes from an unlikely source, the actor Ashton Kutcher on the Bill Maher show, who repeated the suggestion that the auto industry go meet with the oil industry - their partner in crime - and ask them for a bailout. At least we know ExxonMobil can afford it.

                          •  The 'CEOs that ran it into the ground' (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Stomp 442, linkage

                            are long gone.  LONG GONE.

                            Get over it.  No electric car ?

                            Blame Bush. Blame physics.
                            Want the magic motors, and super batteries ?

                            They're trying to make 'em. Get a president to fund basic research.

                            Take off the tinfoil hat,
                            and get back in the game. You missed your story.

                          •  i don't think those CEO's (4+ / 0-)

                            are long gone at all.  Where do you get this idea?

                            "When Obama speaks, Angels orgasm" Jon Stewart, 2008

                            by fernan47 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:20:46 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I fricking live here and have been (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            yuriwho, Stomp 442, linkage, localpol

                            paying attention. Most of the trouble with Ford, for instance, is spelled Nasser.

                            Gone, gone, gone.

                            It takes a LONG time to undo the damage that CAN be done,
                            and it takes a LONG time to do something good.

                            Look, for instance, at the Fusion Hybrid. A midsize car with 38 city/35 hwy, and 47mph on battery.

                            Do you think they began working on that last winter ?
                            The Fusion runs on the C1 Platform, co-designed by Ford, Mazda, and Volvo over 6 years ago. Many variations made in several countries suited to specific markets have shown this a very successful design. The hybrid technology for the Fusion evolved from the Escape, which has been on the road since 2004, and in development long before that. Transmission technology had to be developed for the Hybrid project, and depended on 3 new factories going online at the same time, one in the US, two overseas.  I don't know about you, but building a house on time was hard for me, let alone getting 3 facilities up and running in countries whose system of graft functions differently than in the USA.

                            So, three threads to get to one fine car, at your dealer next year. It has already been fleet tested, and will be ready to go. Unless a supplier of some component loses a contract from any of the carmakers in the US (including our japanese friends) or gets backed up in a takeover ploy like last years Chrysler overthrow by The Dog Of Hell.  

                            So, the old, miserable management is gone. The inter-relatedness of the technology providers, from state of the art motors to wiring harnesses, super efficient air conditioners (you know why AC is a problem with hybrids, right ?) make production complex.  

                            Yes, there are still idiots and no-good-SOBs still ensconced at Ford. There are everywhere, this is America.  If the new Attorney General allows a summary firing squad for inefficient middle management, I know for a fact, Ford leadership will cheerfully comply.  And anybody who lives, as I do, within the sound of the morning and evening whistle at Greenfield Village, will run into the streets and cheer.

                            I'm willing willing to bet thereare even bad middle managers where YOU work.I know there is where I'm employed.. and sad to say I work for myself !

                          •  Wha? (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            linkage, Wild Starchild

                            Sounds like you are saying that current mgmt does NOT in fact have some kind of super-magic to just start making 200mpg cars that are cool, safe, and durable with no issues, known or unknown?

                            Snark aside, I agree 100%. Cars are not toasters. They are complicated machines that BTW, are a whole lot better than they were just 10 years ago.

                            I hate how they fought CAFE standards etc too, but, time for a longer view. The auto industry has had its fair share of corporate assholes. But now, seems to me, the UAW is the new ACORN, which was the new Fannie Mae, which was the new god-hating-baby-killing-librul-media-hippie-librul-hippie-gays. Repugs don't give 2 fucks about union people losing jobs. Why they begrudge working people fighting for their rights rather than Wall Street Grease Hair Boyz selling bits of paper for money to other Grease Hair Boyz is beyond me.

                            Fuck them, and Mittens, to paraphrase Cato the Elder - This grain is well grown, and Republicans must be destroyed.

                            The early worm gets eaten.

                            by localpol on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:25:24 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Management Housecleaning Still Required (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            There are still idiots at Ford (like that asshole who testified) and the rest of the Big 2.5 then take them out in the parking lot on a Friday afternoon and...

                            Send them home to spend more time with their families.

                            Management Goes... Money Flows!


                            The Bushiter's Iraq 2004 - 1268 Dead, about 25K Medivacs and 9000 Maimed... It's the Bushiter Way, wasting other people's money and lives. And it's worse now.

                            by RedMeatDem on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:32:32 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You're either in denial or you didn't watch (5+ / 0-)

                            the trailer, much less the movie.

                            No electric car ?

                            Blame Bush. Blame physics.

                            The whole movie is about EV-1 electric car leasors (you couldn't be an owner) loving their cars, trying to keep them, and trying to stop them from being destroyed.  They banded together, tracked the grabbed cars to an auto crushing lot in Arizona (filmed from a helicopter), and kept a media vigil on the last of the EV-1s in a fenced lot in LA.  They were not able to save one car.  Well, there is one car in an auto museum, but the guts are missing, it's just the body shell.  So this is not a question of blaming physics, or even consumers.

                            Jay Leno has an electric car that's 99 years old and running on its original Edison batteries.  If you start reading the Popular Mechanics article he wrote on it, you can follow links to your heart's content for 100 years of electric car and other alternative fuel car history.

                            The point I'm trying to make and that you're resisting is that when you get Too Big To Fail, you also get Terminally Stupid and Greedy.  The car giants buy innovation to control it and squelch it, not to develop it.  As for the CEOs, all three came to the hearings in private planes, and two out of the three did not agree to take $1 a year salary like Lee Iacocca did when he got his Chrysler bailout.  Even as the UAW has cut wages in half, these CEOs will still be making many millions a year, even as they have run the companies into the ground and are asking for handouts.  That is fail.

                            More from wikipedia:


                            At the 1990 Los Angeles Auto Show, GM President Roger Smith unveiled the "Impact" electric car, the precursor to the EV1, promising that GM would build electric cars for the public. Nine months later, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandated electric car sales by major automakers. In response, makers developed EVs including the Chrysler TEVan, Ford Ranger EV pickup truck, GM EV1 and S10 EV pickup, Honda EV Plus hatchback, Nissan lithium-battery Altra EV miniwagon and Toyota RAV4 EV. Automakers refused to properly promote or sell their EVs, allowed consumers to drive them only by closed-end lease and, along with oil groups, fought the mandate.

                            Chrysler, Toyota and some GM dealers sued in Federal court; California soon neutered its ZEV Mandate. After public protests by EV drivers' groups upset by the repossession of their EVs, Toyota offered the last 328 RAV4-EVs for sale to the general public during six months (ending on November 22, 2002). All other electric cars, with minor exceptions, were withdrawn from the market and destroyed by their manufacturers. To its credit, Toyota not only supports the 328 Toyota RAV4-EV in the hands of the general public, still all running at this date, but also supports hundreds in fleet usage. From time to time, Toyota RAV4-EVs come up for sale on the used market and command prices sometimes over 60 thousand dollars. These are highly prized by solar homeowners, who charge their cars from their solar electric rooftop systems.

                          •  Yeah, talk about a wasted opportunity... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            lazbumm, Liberal Pagan

                            No, let's not build electric cars even though we can. Let's build SUVs because the profit margin is insanely high.

                            Yeah, that worked out real well now didn't it?

                            The Shapeshifter's Blog -- Politics, Philosophy, and Madness!

                            by Shapeshifter on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 02:06:07 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  i only will support it if (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            thatvisionthing, linkage

                            they throw out the executives and the boards and 'we' take control.

                            They won't go for that, so I believe bankruptcy is the only way to go.

                            I totally get the point about destroying the last big unions and don't take that lightly at all.

                            But what is the alternative that isn't propping them up when no matter what they do they have already failed?

                            And I say that knowing that as a Michigan resident I will take it directly in my pocketbook starting with my home value which has already plummeted.

                            I think the bastards need to be thrown out and the factories retooled.  Who is going to administer that????

                            Some people out there are probably capable.  We have lots of smart people who are squeezed out of corporations because they are too intelligent and innovative.  I don't know how to get them to the top where they belong.

                            "When Obama speaks, Angels orgasm" Jon Stewart, 2008

                            by fernan47 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:19:58 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Yup (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          This is all about killing the UAW.

                          The GOP: suicide bomber economics.

                          Palin: I can see Russia from my house! Obama: I can see Lafayette Park from mine.

                          by Attorney at Arms on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:44:51 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  The real difference (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        ColoTim, linkage

                        is that yearly taxes go up exponentially with size of motor (and, coincidentally, gas consumption). An SUV will pay thousands per year for registration alone. A Jaguar costs a small car per year in taxes. Maybe not entirely intentionally related to gas savings, but it does a good part of the job.

                        Don't try to heal the world: you may be its disease.

                        by gongo on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:55:09 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  I regret I can only recommend this comment once (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                    •  "High Mileage Turbo Diesel Cars" (26+ / 0-)

                      Sorry to contradict you, "Marvyt," but those "high mileage turbo diesel small cars made in Europe" DO meet "EPA air quality standards," because I've got one and I love it. It's a 2002 VW Golf TDI and it passes inspection easily and always. It's now almost 2009 (it arrived here in November 2001) and it's a wonderful car. The VW Golf is about the most popular car in some places like Florence, Italy. Our "free market" liars have probably worked out a "managed trade agreement" so that the small, even tiny, European cars cannot be sold here. I was just in Paris and saw exactly ONE large SUV. All this blather about "competitiveness" and "free trade" is nuts. Our companies make high mileage diesel cars already--in Europe.

                      "Remember Kent State."

                      by Buck Turgisson on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:17:09 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I wonder if they would work if they were... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      linkage, elwior

                      ...redone for biodeisel?  I love the idea of biodeisel.

                      You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

                      by DawnG on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:59:12 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  There are perfectly good diesel cars sold in the (7+ / 0-)

                      US now--so clearly, it's quite possible to make a high-mileage diesel engine that meets the EPA standards (although I actually don't think that you're correct on this claim).  

                      And GM (or Ford, or Chrysler) is perfectly capable of making their European product line here as well.  If they were to begin retooling factories here tomorrow, I'm going to guess that they could be up within 12 - 18 months (would require some design changes, but not major ones); a major side benefit would be a chance to rethink the design and layout of the plants themselves from first principles, which would probably result in a huge increase in productivity and product mix flexibility.

                      The problem that the domestic car industry faces right now is that (i) they really missed predicting customer preference changes over the last 18 months or so; (ii) it's a structural reality that the American consumer can't spend and doesn't have access to credit right now; (iii) both of these factors mean that the US (and the global) auto market have at least 25% overcapacity at this point; and (iv) the fact that they're having to pay for health care for their workers is eating them alive.  All of these are catastrophic management failures, and taken together they mean that none of the Big Three have the COH or the potential sales to survive for the near future.

                      I would personally be in favor of some sort of managed restructuring of the industry,to get the product mix, the total capacity, and the legacy costs back into line with where customer demand is likely to be.  It goes without saying that a necessary precondition would be that the existing shareholders (and management) need to take a massive hit in their valuation; however, they should see this as the only way they get even a small bit back.

                      And all that excess manufacturing capacity, that is run by some of the most efficient and cost-effective workers anywhere in the world?  Sounds like a perfect way to jump-start domestic manufacturing of all the bits and pieces for the infrastructure rebuilding project that I'm hoping will be part of an eventual stimulus package--light rail, trams, subways, high-speed passenger rail, wind turbines, you name it (I could expand that list to 2 - 3 pages in about 3 minutes).

                      •  people are putting off buying _any_ car right now (6+ / 0-)

                        I don't see any way to avoid the fact that no one wants to spend money on any big ticket item.  There does not seem to be any allowance in the system for resistant consumers.  People were encouraged to over-consume and charge it all on credit. New cars, new houses, new crap from China to fill the houses. Landfills full of usable stuff that wasn't new enough.  Bush's answer was always to give taxpayers money to go spend on some new junk.  But the adjustment that is needed is to stop buying stuff we don't need.  There is no way around the fact that when people stop spending their money on junk they don't really need that businesses that grew in response to infated consuming will have to downsize and many jobs will be lost.

                        The only real solution I see is for a federal works program that will employ all the people that are going to lose their jobs.  

                      •  Diesel (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        Has been off the table for a long time due to consumers perception of diesel.  Outside of this community if you say diesel to people the visual people have are of, say, an underpowered 1982 Olds '88 that thrashed and stank.  Put that with the fact that diesel fuel is more expensive and you have epic diesel fail in consumers minds.  They're already having difficulty changing perception on quality, i'm betting diesel isn't a fight they want to make just yet.  
                        As a side note, last year Chrysler announced a commitment to developing better diesel technology for small cars, and you can buy Jeep Liberty's with diesel engines, as well as a whole slate of truck based vehicles.

                        I'm going to put this into NASCAR language so you understand: All you have to do is turn left. So why do you keep turning right? -Dick V. Electric 6

                        by Stomp 442 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:04:34 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  If not diesel, then gasoline-- (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Leslie H, linkage, Wild Starchild

                          my current car is a 1993 (for God's sake) Honda Civic VX hatchback.  It's not particularly a small car (seats 4 comfortably with a good deal of luggage room); I bought it for $12,000 new, it currently has 295,000 miles on it, and it still gets 50 mpg (originally it got 60 highway if I was reasonably prudent).

                          Wwe're not discussing rocket science, and we're not really trying to push the technical envelope here--we're dealing with the consequences of monumentally bad management decisions.

                          However, besides all that--regarding consumer perceptions of diesel, I really don't think that the average consumer is currently living the reality of a 26-year-old technology.  The price differential between diesel and gasoline may be an issue in purchasing decisions.  I think we've pretty much left the (early) Reagan era behind in that, as well as in political paradigms.

                          •  diesel (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            the early 80's is the last time diesels were prevalent in society.  That's the frame of reference.

                            The brand new Honda Fit gets worse gas mileage than the Chevy Malibu.  So...everyone needs to be on board.

                            I'm going to put this into NASCAR language so you understand: All you have to do is turn left. So why do you keep turning right? -Dick V. Electric 6

                            by Stomp 442 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:40:16 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  By "society" I take it that you mean (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            lazbumm, linkage

                            "in the United States".  And they weren't prevalent here, then.

                            My point is, that solutions are readily available, and won't take a long time to implement.  The problem isn't technical, it's mostly managerial and financial.

                          •  i understood what you were saying (0+ / 0-)

                            ...a society is an economic, social and industrial infrastructure, in which a varied multitude of people are a part of. Members of a society may be from different ethnic groups.
                            Yes.  I'm talking about us.  As that seems to be the topic at hand.
                            My point was that there is cultural stigma attached, and its more than managerial and financial.  All major companies have diesel engines available to them.  There are real reasons why they are not popular here.  And it stems from perception.
                            Overcoming all of the perception issues at hand, the idea of overcoming that one as well seems like a stretch, especially when right they're trying to pay bills.
                            Wrong tree to bark up.  Wrong focus for right now.

                            I'm going to put this into NASCAR language so you understand: All you have to do is turn left. So why do you keep turning right? -Dick V. Electric 6

                            by Stomp 442 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:43:59 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't see the diesel issue as that big a deal (0+ / 0-)

                            but if it is, so what?  It's quite obviously possible to make very efficient gasoline cars too.  Don't fixate on diesel and get stuck on that, regardless of whether the American consumer would accept them or not.

                    •  People, they make flex fuel cars in Brazil (0+ / 0-)

                      My company does a lot of work for GM and we even have an office now in Brazil. GM makes flex fuel cars in Brazil that can run on any combination of gas and ethanol.

                      Cars in Brazil also run on compressed natural gas and biodiesel, and the employee I hired in Brazil says all the consumer vehicles there are small 4-bangers with high fuel economy.

                      So GM can do green engines, they just never had much incentive here because we Americans love our V6 power and torque and that's what we were buying before the $4 gas prices of 2008.

                      "If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you." -- Oscar Wilde

                      by wingsnight on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:08:24 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I own an OPEL Vectra, GM made.... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Stomp 442

                      best car I've ever owned, serious competitor to a BMW or AUDI, great car.

                      "Just once, why can't one of our poorly considered quick fixes work?" -The Onion

                      by expatinmex on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:53:11 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  My guess is that we are headed for another great (21+ / 0-)

                    depression FishOutofWater.

                    I'm strongly opposed to a major depression.  And if you, or anyone else can think of a way to stop it, or even ameliorate it, I'll be all for it.

                    But, I do not want to see Democrats blowing our new found credibility doing things that either will not work, or make things worse.  And make us look stupid.    

                    I taught course systems approaches to strategic thinking in both Ford and GM as well as many other ,.multinationals.   In North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

                    The reason they didn't bring these EU cars over here is they've been losing over $1,000 per vehicle on the smallerm, more fuel efficient cars in NA.

                    They've been trying to figure out ways to do it profitable for at least a decade.  It's not that they haven't seen this coming.

                    Selling GMAC, Saturn, Hummer, Onstar, and their real estate (with lease backs) can buy them some time.  But maybe not enough to figure out how to make North American assembly profitable.

                    But, as I said I'm all for it if it's possible to do.  But let's see the plan before we put the people money in to it.

                    And, isn't GM's total market capitalization just under $30 billion now, and they are losing $5 billion a month?

                    If we put in $25 to 50 billion, I think we should take most of the equity. Just like any other investor would.  

                    What an embarassment when money for this last bailout of finacial institutions when to pay bonuses, dividends, etc.

                    We need better oversight, understanding, and planning of what we are doing and why.  

                    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                    by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:37:14 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  let's see the plan before we put the people money (10+ / 0-)

                      into it. Did we see the plan for the 2 trillion that was spent and did we see the plan for the $350 billion that has already been spent from the $700 billion bailout package?

                      True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness. Albert Einstein

                      by desnyder on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:48:49 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  No and look where that got us. (21+ / 0-)

                        Some of these companies are using the money not to give loans to struggling folks to restructure their mortgages, but are paying bonuses and dividends, and hoarding cash.

                        We need to learn for these errors.

                        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                        by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:53:32 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  I have a plan (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        gsbadj, linkage

                        Give them a loan with the specification that until the loan is paid back everyone working for the auto-manufacturers who makes over $300,000 per year has to take a 20% pay cut, and give up any bonuses they have coming.

                        That would give the auto big wigs incentive to get off their butts and make their businesses profitable fast.  And maybe some of them on the lower end of the scale will qualify for Obama's tax cuts after their pay cuts.

                        Oh and they should all put those private jets on eBay.

                        I'm saying, "thanks but no thanks to that Governor from Alaska."

                        by Cyber Kat on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:22:14 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  20% cut? (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Leslie H, linkage, fernan47, not this time

                          Damn, you're generous.

                          I'd cut it by 1/3 ... and the percentage would be higher once you get over $500K.  With a maximum of $500K total salary.

                          Same terms to all 3 car companies.

                          "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

                          by gsbadj on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:44:04 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  And, the good ones get new jobs... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            ColoTim, linkage

                            Cutting compensation for executives makes little difference to the bottom line. However, doing so insures that many of the best executives will leave for more lucrative jobs and those that remain will mostly be those that are overpaid even at the reduced compensation levels (after all, they couldn't find anyone willing to pay them more). Paying a lot for something doesn't insure you get high quality, paying little for something almost always insures that you will get low quality. Those executives (which might be all of them!) who are not worth what they are being paid should be fired and replaced with someone worth that much or more (who may demand even higher pay).

                            As a taxpayer who would have to pay for the bailout, I want the best executives, not the cheapest executives that can be found, to protect my investment.

                            When picking a heart surgeon, most people would pick the best they can get, not the one willing to do the job cheap. However, even a mediocre heart surgeon usually gets it right. Mediocre executives almost never get it right (except, of course, when they are riding a rising tide). If the nation is so dependent on the Big 3 that they need a bailout, the nation can't afford to then hire the cheapest executives to run them (any more than we should replace all line workers with 18 year high school dropouts who will work for minimum wage).

                            However, compensation to senior executives should be structured around long-term (5+ years) corporate success - and be very lucrative if aggressive goals are met and dismally depressing if goals are not met.

                          •  If the companies ... (0+ / 0-)

                            ... even had mediocre executives, they wouldn't be in the situation they are today.

                            There are really two options.  First, even the Big Three can't pay enough for really good managers, or, second, money can't buy good management.  Either way, CEO compensation isn't going to improve the quality of the Big Three's leadership.

                            If your company gets bailed out, management doesn't get compensated at all.  Period.

                          •  Maybe if you get rid of all 3 CEO's (0+ / 0-)

                            and hire some with a plan and agreement to an reasonable salary with raises only if they build the company and go green.

                            True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness. Albert Einstein

                            by desnyder on Mon Nov 24, 2008 at 05:39:17 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  What I don't get about this, though... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            is this: what is the quality of management at Toyota, Honda, et al? And what is their compensation?

                            I'm seriously asking, because I don't know, although I have a strong hunch.

                            "And when justice is gone, there's always force."

                            by soundchaser on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 04:58:32 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Equity is the key (15+ / 0-)

                      Let's face it, the government can either get into the manufacturing business on a short-term basis, or it can just pay everyone welfare on the long-term basis.

                    •  So why is it... (12+ / 0-)

                      The reason they didn't bring these EU cars over here is they've been losing over $1,000 per vehicle on the smallerm, more fuel efficient cars in NA.

                      So, at the risk of sounding really stupid...

                      Why is it that Toyota and Honda and other successful auto manufacturers can build high-quality, fuel efficient cars and sell them here at a profit, but American manufacturers can't? Not only that, in many cases, those foreign manufacturers build their cars here in the U.S. and still manage to be profitable.

                      I've heard for years that it's simply a case of mismanagement on the part of the American auto makers. Maybe it's something else, I dunno, but it sure doesn't make sense to me.

                      You better be nice to us... 'cause if you aren't, we just might bring democracy to YOUR country.

                      by DixieDishrag on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:28:46 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Bingo! DixieDishrag That's the billion dollar (13+ / 0-)

                        question.  I'm not an expert on the auto-industry but my impression is that their are multiple reasons with management competence being the "X" factor to a lot of them.

                        Yes, Toyota and Honda have managed to bypass union constraints and often give their workers few benefits and wages.

                        And benefit from not having an incredible handicap of "legacy costs" of retirement and retiree health plans.

                        And by coming in latter, they benefited from later technology, equipment and capital plant, and fewer ancient environmental legacy disastors.

                        But they also, have been extra-ordinary in pioneering total quality all the way back from their beginnings after WW2 when they had to rebuild from zero.  

                        They tried harder.  They embraced Edward Demming, the founder of statistical quality control and embraced a culture of continuous improvement from top to bottom.  The Big 3 scoffed at this for several decades out of the arrogance of being number 1, IMHO.

                        Peter Drucker has also written a great deal on the cultural divides in the types of responses to the "game changing" evolutions of the competitive and regulatory environments.

                        When environmentally and CAFE standards emerged, The Big 3 in Detroit invested in lobbbists to oppose and block legislation.

                        Honda and Toyota invested heavily in engineering and production improvements to their engine technology, vehihcle wieghts and everything else they could do to improve everything in their vehicles, manufacturing systems, labor productivity, management systems, culture, etc.

                        They epitimize the axiom that the only sustainable competitive advantage you will ever get is your ability to learn faster than your competitors.

                        After starting off with an almost unimagiable 100 year advantage of economies of scale, GMs top management became complacent (power corrupts - absolute power corrupts absolutely)

                        Now the Toyota Production System is the envy of the world.

                        And at least as of about five years ago, GM economy of scale structure now hangs like an albatross around it's neck.  I was told then that if their market share ever fell below about 25% they would have a death spiral with no stable equilibrium point below that (because of the massive overhead and legacy costs.)

                        And they already new then that it was not possible to make their North American Assembly operations competitive.  They were already losing in excess of $1,000 on mid and small size passenger vehicles and only produced them because of the regulation for average fleet CAFE standards.

                        They subsidized them with profits from GMAC (car loans, Onstar, Real Estate appreciation, and other sidelines.)

                        One exec from Ford told me that if it wouldn't be politically unacceptable they'd would be better off just shut down small and mid size car production and pay the CAFE fines.  He thought this was hilarious.  

                        This has been widely known and coming down the pike for over a decade.  Folks can't pretend they are shocked to realize this now.

                        It's incredibly sad and will be vastly more tragic, in it's spin off consequences than I've seen anyone imagining or writing about.

                        But we must keep our heads clear and think analysitically, strategically, and creatively to navigate a way foward that minimizes the  many  further side effects and reinforcing downward spirals that will occur.

                        We may need outride subsidies, I don't think anyone really knows for sure how we are going to manage this.

                        But we need to be realistic, objective, data and logic driven, and start learning as we go along faster than we've ever done before in a political system.

                        We also have enormous stengths and an astonishingly talented and capable new President Obama, and enough numbers in the Senate and House that we will have the power to act.

                        My only point was let's be as intelligent and strategic about it as we can possible be.  Because we probably will not get a lot of second chances, or forgiveness when the inevitable bolloxes occur.

                        And to add insult to injury, those darn Republicans are going to try to blame this all on the Democrats when it starts really hitting bottom in a few years.

                        But, I'm confident we will make it through better than ever, with enought time.  Like a decade or more.  

                        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                        by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:08:03 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You make many good points (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          linkage, Wild Starchild, fernan47

                          In 1990 or thereabout Toyota Motor Corporation embarked upon a ten year plan called "Global 10" which was aimed at reaching 10% 0f total vehicle sales worldwide by the year 2000.

                          They didn't acheive that goal by their target date but have been very close in the past couple of years.

                          For any industry to survive in this nation, we have to do something with the 17% GDP probelm that is our healthcare sosts.

                          Looking at this problem doing back of the napkin math, allowing for a 10% return on capital, the profits going to the most profitable sector of healthcare (Insurance companies themselves) is 1.7% of GDP or nearly half of what the Big 3 Automakers generate which is given to be 4% GDP.

                          Our nations real problem is that our healthcare costs have become so far out of control that all other business is being effected negatively.

                          The Auto companies woes are merely a symptom of this systematic disease we suffer as a nation.

                          Foreign Automakers with manufacturing facilities in the USA have not been here long enough for the compounding of healthcare costs to cause them the pain that older established companies feel today.

                          "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

                          by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:24:13 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  I just don't get it (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          How will the GOP blame the Dems for fall-out from a bankrupt auto industry when the GOP will be the one that filibustered away the bailout in the first place?

                          I can see a few of them (Shelby) being laissez faire types, arguing that the government shouldn't involve itself in anything this massive.

                          But how do you make that argument after your party just engineered spending much, much more on the Wall Street bailout?

                          And yes, I get the screw-the-union angle.  But somehow I don't see the GOP as thinking that they can perfectly time a waiting game with the UAW over wage concessions.  

                          And make no mistake; it'd have to be perfectly timed because once one auto company files for bankruptcy, they'll all file soon thereafter.

                          "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing glove." P.G. Wodehouse

                          by gsbadj on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:53:06 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  It's not like it has to make sense (0+ / 0-)

                            They'll blame the Democrats loudly and wherever they can get a spokesperson (Limbaugh, Fox Noise, etc) and they'll work to make it common wisdom that it was the Democrats in charge of Congress and some outgoing President who betrayed us all who doomed the country to the depression we're in and it's only the Republicans who can save us.  Facts be damned!

                      •  Toyota's Powerful Sales (4+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        sea note, linkage, unionboy, edg

                        are now off 37% according to last night's Charlie Rose show.

                    •  I just get the feeling you're anti-union (5+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      DHinMI, sea note, linkage, elwior, equinenurse

                      most of your comments mention making North American assembly being unprofitable.

                      Is that your real motivation? Assembly line workers being paid too much?

                      McCain, Republican Party, Palin = Captain, Sinking Ship, Anchor.

                      by Pescadero Bill on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:50:14 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Not at all Pescadero, I was a member of the (5+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        theran, sea note, ColoTim, linkage, soundchaser

                        Steal Worker Union and Meat Packer (I can't rememember what we called it.) when I put myself through college.

                        Direct labor cost are less than 6% of automibile cost I believe.

                        But, the big 3 have enormous legacy costs, the recent foreign more recent entrants do not have.

                        Like retiree health benefits, pensions, numerous environmental legacies (like the decommissioning cost of returning former factory to what they call greenfields") and by coming in latter, Honda, and Toyota have more modern technology, plant and equipment.

                        Plus I think in Japan the automakers do not have to pay for their workers health plans, although, I may be mistaken about this.

                        If you read my comments carefully, you'll see I've suggested I'd prefer to have single payer or any of the recent HRC or Obama health plans to take some or all of this burden off our auto and other industries.

                        I'd also be willing to support the government taking over the retirement and pension plans, which I believe is inevitable anyway.

                        These would both be better investments, than just giving it to the current management.

                        We need to get experts in with more data.  This is not my field of expertise, I'm a strategic facilitator and advisor.

                        But, I was moved to make these comments because when I first read this diary if was filled with sad pictures of empty warehouses from the 1980 and empathetic pleas that we can't let this happen to our auto-workers.

                        And then several folks wrote some blistering tirades filled with angry and crude invective castigating anyone heartless or stupid enough not to bail out the autocompanies.

                        I agree we can't let this happen, but it isn't going to help just to throw good money after bad.  That might guareentee their failure or, at least, make our chances worse.

                        I want to see some reality based plans that have some hope of succeeding.  In my experience, laying out an objective analysis with clearly identified assumptions, and places we need more data highlighted with some plan for action steps works better.

                        I haven't seen anything remotely close.

                        Then I saw the article in HuffPo, indicating the Democratic leaders might be backing down and planning to recess without addressing this.  Probably, because they've been hit with the next layer of complexity, I haven't yet seen anyone discuss here.

                        So, I'm trying to be helpful.  To the unions, to Michigan, etc.

                        But, even my GM management friends told me six years ago, the direct cost of union labor was not the problem.  

                        But politically back then they couldn't imagine getting help with the massive "legacy cost" bundle.

                        If union folks wisely zoom in on this, and it turns out to still be true, we will  probably find that some solutions dovetail really well with some of our legislative agenda.

                        For example, the loss of retireement benefits, like what happened with Enron, is a crime, IMO, and is may happen elsewhere, (if it hasn't already been fixed.)

                        And health care.  I'd rather see $25 billion go directly to assume health care cost for the union members than dividends for stockholders or to pay for GM to buy out Kensu motors, spa treatments, or some crazy &^&^ like we've seen with the financial bailout.

                        Unions are not the problem.  It's been the management and bad luck, IMO.  

                        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                        by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:21:21 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  My husband has been following the Tesla car (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      linkage, Wild Starchild, fernan47

                      Right now they are hand made and are having trouble getting the credit from banks they need to expand.  He thinks one of the big 3 ought to use 3billion to buy the Tesla and use an assembly line to churn them out.  Then we'd at least have a great car to buy, if we were in a buying mood.

                      •  maybe (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        but Tesla just let an assload of engineers go in Farmington Hills, MI., so it'd probably be easier for companies to snatch them up instead.

                        I'm going to put this into NASCAR language so you understand: All you have to do is turn left. So why do you keep turning right? -Dick V. Electric 6

                        by Stomp 442 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:06:54 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  They might want to start with cutting (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      linkage, smuch

                      "management" costs.
                         How many layers of management does it take to build a car? It's no accident that the CEOs came to Capital Hill (to say how badly they needed money), each on their own corporate jet. I mean, you can't really expect for royalty to travel like the peasants do.
                        The Media's now making a fuss about how Union workers get all these "luxury" items like health benefits, decent wages, and pensions, as if that's the cause of Big Auto's demise. It's like blaming our military personnel for what happened in Iraq.
                        For the Auto industry in America to survive, the "Golden Gravy Train" which management has become must be shut down. Michael Moore had it right 20 years ago and got called a lunatic. Who's the crazy one now?

                      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

                      by elwior on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:14:32 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  The idea that the American (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Bronxist, HoundDog, linkage

                    auto makers don't respond to demand baffles me. A lot of people here think Americans have some huge demand for product the Big Three won't produce. They are wrong.

                    •  Paying attention to consumer demand seems to (5+ / 0-)

                      be one of the secrets of highly successful companies.

                      But ironically, when you've had almost a century of the extra-ordinary success of GM, you can get arrogant enough to forget this valuable lesson.

                      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                      by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:09:28 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Toyota/Honda/etc ... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ColoTim, linkage

                      ... they are selling the product the Big Three won't produce. The sales numbers tell the story clearly.

                      They make the smaller, better designed cars that sell better, why is that hard to understand?

                      •  Actually perception is king... (5+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        rolandzebub, Stomp 442, fisheye, linkage, edg

                        Ford especially is producing very similar cars.  But people still believe the stereotypes of 20 years ago regarding reliability and fuel economy.  The sad fact is that people made up their minds a long time ago and don't want any inconvient info to change them.

                        "An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot." - Thomas Paine

                        by Mister Gloom on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:20:04 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  throwing the blame on the consumer (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          is not rational if that is what you are doing.  I wouldn't by an American car unless it was something innovative, period.

                          My Acura is 17 years old.  Show me a similar car that could have made it that long made by one of the big three.  It doesn't exist.

                          They changed, if they have, far, far too late.

                          "When Obama speaks, Angels orgasm" Jon Stewart, 2008

                          by fernan47 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:33:11 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Isn't that what advertising is for? n/t (0+ / 0-)

                          "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

                          by Quanta on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:14:42 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  No they don't (0+ / 0-)

                        the sales numbers show that U.S. auto makers sell SUV's at a profit and competitively fuel effecient small cars at a loss. Toyota is not more profitable because they sell more cars than GM. Or I should say suffering less losses than GM. It's because their costs for producing the same cars is less.
                        Also brand loyalty is a huge factor in people's perceptions of quality and many American's wrote of the Big 3 as poor quality manufacturers a long time ago regardless of what they build.

                      •  What's hard to understand ... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Stomp 442, linkage

                        is why you don't do a bit of research before you pull so-called facts out of thin air. Toyota is suffering a total collapse of profitabilty, partly due to introducing the humongous Tundra pickup truck. Why did they do that? Because Americans like you demanded bigger and bigger behemoths to overcompensate for some other shortcoming. If Americans had wanted small, efficient vehicles, Detroit would have built them.

                        We forgot. Not just MORE Democrats. BETTER Democrats.

                        by edg on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:39:48 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  This is like story 35 (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          From the comment just above yours:

                          the sales numbers show that U.S. auto makers sell SUV's at a profit and competitively fuel effecient small cars at a loss.

                          So either Detroit is making small cars and losing money on them or it's not, because nobody wants them.

                          Alternatively, the imports have gobbled up the profitable part of the car business.  Then those that reached for the truck business too got tagged.

                          But, anyway, all car and truck sales are way down.  The difference between the Detroit 3 and the Japanese companies is that the latter don't seem to be going out of business.  Chopping your profits by 1/2 or 2/3 or whatever isn't the same as making a loss.

                          Probably the difference doesn't come down to anything more than better management and building of brand loyalty and perceived quality.

                          "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

                          by theran on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:44:11 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  I don't understand that mindset. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    of "letting it happen".  It may very well be unavoidable.  We should try, but I am not very optimistic.  

                    You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

                    by DawnG on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:58:15 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  A massive depression, paralizing the country,.... (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Felix, NoMoreLies, ColoTim, linkage

                    .....exactly what the neofascist Limbaugh/Coulter wing of the GOP would love.  The severe depression in Germany during the nineteen twenties and early thirties provided the Nazis with the popular support that enabled them to take over the government and proceed with their imperial agenda.  

                    We should not delude ourselves into believing that this could not happen here.  The extreme right believes that the horrendous hardship to middle and lower income people that a major depression will create is of no consequence if it advances their  evil agenda.  From that dark period preceding and during world war II we should have learned one thing if any: the agenda of the neofascist wing of the GOP must be stopped at any cost.    

                •  we can't have green transportation (19+ / 0-)

                  without an indigenous manufacturing capacity

                  I mean, we can, but then we've once again shipped all our monies off-shore, and we have no control over the technology nor the jobs, and are suddenly vulnerable to, say, Japanese manipulation instead of Saudi.

                  The single greatest challenge we face -- economically, environmentally, and geopolitically -- is solving the energy crisis. It is the centerpiece of everything, and, thus, a unique opportunity.

                  Now...we may not be able to save all three car companies, but I think we should try. For one thing, regardless the wage lies, those are high-income stable consumers, and we need them to (um) drive our economy. And we need more of them.

                  "If kerosene works/Why not gasoline?" -- The Bottle Rockets

                  by Shocko from Seattle on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:18:13 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Why dont we give them each a contract... (10+ / 0-)

                    instead of a bailout?  If we want them to work for the country then make them work.  Give them each a $5B cost-plus (hold the $10B back for the plus- it'll come) contract to develop greener cars.  Give them some basic requirements 4 doors, 5 passenger, X amount of cargo, cold weather operation and some Miles per BTU goals.  Tell them we want prototypes and we will buy a fleet of 1000 vehicles.  10,000 vehicles to the winner.

                    What they need is work not handouts!

                  •  Driving our economy? lol OK I'll rec you for a (8+ / 0-)

                    sense of humor, Shocko.  But I hope this doesn't accelerate the trend towards silly puns.  Let's put the brakes on this right away before we create a highway to heck and steer ourselves into worse trouble.

                    Please don't misunderstand my challenges... I want to have a viable domestic auto-industry.  Which is why we need objective analysis and skepticism to weed out the disasterous boondoggles these unscrubulous CEOs will only be too able to foist onto us.    

                    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                    by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:41:22 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  And no unions I bet. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      McCain, Republican Party, Palin = Captain, Sinking Ship, Anchor.

                      by Pescadero Bill on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:34:22 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Interesting point... (0+ / 0-)

                        Let's say the Big 3 come back and offer us two deals:

                        1. $25 billion to guarantee survival for 6 months while they restructure, or
                        2. $X billion and kill the UAW and eliminate all of their current labor contracts to guarantee survival for 6 months while they restructure

                        How much does $X have to be for us to go for the second deal?

                        How much are we, as the American people, willing to pay to save the UAW?

                •  The exedx could have started (4+ / 0-)

                  by traveling to DC via car, not private jet.

                •  I honestly believe that the repubs... (12+ / 0-)

                  Would love to see the big 3 go belly up.  This would bust the Unions and pave the way for repubs in 2012.  I think the writer of this diary nailed it.

                  The repubs are trying as they might to hand Obama a decimated economy that will require years to repair.  Oh and who do you think will get the blame?

                  Obama and the Dems - Don't ever doubt it.

              •  Did you hear about the sneak press viewing (8+ / 0-)

                this summer of the Volt?

                It could barely go 15mph (around this speed) up an incline. GM asked the press if they could speed up the footage so it looked like it was going faster.

                I'm not kidding.

              •  The Volt is not the answer (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk, yuriwho, linkage, kingyouth

                It's a boutique car. It'll retail between 40-50K. Honda's new Insight that goes on the market in April starts at 18.5K, and is rumored to get mileage in the 60-68 mph range. The Volt can't compete with that. Who is going to buy a car like the Volt? It's outside the cost range of the vast majority of consumers. There will be reliability issues simply because the car was rushed into production, without a long development phase. Detroit already has a reputation, fair, or unfair, for making poorly engineered cars with suspect quality control, a reputation they've had a difficult time shedding. If you've got a company that might not even be in business in 5 years, are you really going to spend that kind of money on the Volt?

                The only thing that's going to save Detroit is a serious of super-fuel efficient vehicles that undersell the imports, and that isn't on the horizon as far as I can see. Having said all this, you can't just let the UAW drown, it will be a debacle for not only the working people effected, but working people generally. The GOP has been waiting for this moment. Let this by a rebuke to the neoliberal economic model, that ruinous theory that all would be better if the free market were left alone. A combination of trade liberalization, privatization, deregulation and regressive tax policies have helped destroy American industry. It fed corporate America's short-term thinking, which has now created a long-term problem.

                •  What about tariffs on imports? (0+ / 0-)

                  If they can get the price down low enough a tariff on imported cars could make up the rest.  It would piss the japanses off but it might be something to think about.

                  "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

                  by Quanta on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:25:51 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The Volt's cost would have to come down (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    considerably, and I can't see how GM could do it. They're teetering on bankruptcy. The cost of rushing the Volt into production, and the inevitable problems that will need to be corrected will not allow GM to discount the car substantially. There is also the issue of the WTO, and tariffs. We should abrogate the WTO, NAFTA, PNTR and the rest, but there would be consequences to that, the U.S. just doesn't have a domestic industrial capacity anymore to build the sort of products we now import from industrial powers in Europe and East Asia, and we need those products.

                    If Congress wants to save Detroit, start with nationalized health care. That is Detroit's biggest overhead, that would relieve them of a significant impediment to their bottomline. A long-term fix is going to include mandates for innovation. The bailout proposal is a textbook example in how absurd government's handling of the auto industry has been, but you also see it with the financial bailout, where supporters of these bailouts are making a bailout contingent upon regulation. That's incredible, the government negotiating for regulation. The government regulators, and Congress should have mandated regulation many years ago whether Detroit liked it, or not, whether Wall Street liked it, or not. We're asking permission from perpetual bad actors to correct their bad behavior. We essentially have to come up with a handout in order to get them to reform themselves. Only in America.

                  •  Yet that wouldn't affect the Toyotas, Hondas, etc (0+ / 0-)

                    that are made in this country.

                    "So long as they don't get violent, I want to let everyone say what they wish, for I myself have always said exactly what pleased me." - Albert Einstein

                    by kingyouth on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 11:09:08 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  yeah the Volt (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                linkage, kingyouth

                I love the idea of the Volt but it really just sounds like they are trying to replace their $35k SUV line with a $35 Green Line of automobiles. Which is commendable but what average person can afford it?

              •  Is that the $40,000.00 Volt? And who has (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                that kind of money now. I laughed about that when I heard the CEO of Ford last year touting that car as their contribution to the market. WTF?
                Has anyone ever done research into what kind of car those bastards drive? I am sooooo curious. I KNOW it's not a Taurus. This whole thing makes my blood boil.

                chance favors the prepared mind - pasteur

                by CaCowGal on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:55:55 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks a lot for the insight, (7+ / 0-)

              I really can't imagine any credible plan. They spent so many years and lobbyist money fighting against better mileage that it's tough to be sympathetic with them, but then again we can't ignore the millions of workers affected by this.

              It's tough...

            •  These companies are already committed (14+ / 0-)

              to changing to low mileage/flex fuel/electric vehicles.

              GM, Ford and Chrysler are already deeply committed to designing the next generation of flex fuel and electric vehicles.

              A few examples (and there are plenty)
              Chevrolet to launch worlds largest fleet of Fuel cell vehicles
              GM's eco-vehicle plans
              GM unveils the Green Hummer
              Volt is US car industries 'Moon shot"
              GM debuts hybrid pickups
              Ford testing Hybrids with Johnson-saft batteries
              Nissan, GM and Ford building hybrid taxis for NYC
              Ford is working on smart intersections to save gas

              The examples are all over the internet where these companies are already making good use of technology to bring their vehicles up to a competitive 21st century low emission, high mileage standard.

              The counter-proposal by the GOP sheds some light on what their intent is.

              The White House wants a previous $25bn federal loan programme, aimed at funding new green car production, to be used instead, and Republicans said last night that this was the only proposal with a chance of passing through Congress and avoiding a presidential veto.


              In other words it seems the GOP want these companies to abandon all efforts to design new technology vehicles. These efforts are next to impossible to reverse once started. Whatever has already been spent will be wasted and at the end of the day no new products will come out of the big 3 companies.

              Crazy when you consider what just a few of the other big auto companies are already doing:

              Japan certifies Toyota Plug ins
              Plug in Prius 1300 miles on a tank of gas
              Mitsubishi unveils greener business plan
              BMW beats Prius in MPG's
              Nissan going electric in China

              The development of new models is a never ending activity that makes the car industry so competitive. The proposal to strip away the $25B in development funds to use on day to day running expenses is insanity as the companies with the best new technology are the ones which will do well after the economic crisis has passed. At the moment every car company is suffering from the same downturn in market conditions. Those already advanced with new technologies such as Ford, Chrysler and GM already are, will come out the other side OK. Stopping the development of new technology right now will be a deficit which will be next to impossible to make up.

              3 More reasons in favour of the assistance loan here

              1. National Security
              1. Economic Resilience
              1. Without it NASCAR is gone

              BTW dont the 2.5 million people who pay taxes deserve some say in how the bailout money is spent. Keeping their jobs would probably be on the priority list. Right at the top I'd think.

              "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

              by Unenergy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:55:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  A "green Hummer" is an oxymoron and (8+ / 0-)

                their intense focus on these giant personal-use vehicles and lack of attention to smaller and much more affordable cars is exactly what screwed them in the first place.

                The green issue is only one aspect of their problems anyway.  The reality is that their business model sucked.  It relied on a constantly booming marketplace where people could not only afford these giant cars, but also could afford to run them.  Most people on Wall Street can't even afford to buy a Hummer this year - green or not.

                I want the Congress to keep them from going under, but I do want to see a lot of changes in exchange for that investment - and I'm not talking about exclusively green changes - they need to start dealing in real terms with this market which means that they need to committ to a long-term plan for a diversified product line rather than rely on short-term trends - or worse try to prop up unpopular trends that are not profitable or sustainable.

                •  Is it? (0+ / 0-)

                  in some ways hummers are greener than importer hybrids, since they can be recycled almost 100% where the early G1 hybrids with their huge Ni-Hydride batteries will sit in some junk yard for ages polluting the place.


                  •  Subaru is advertising a 100% recyclable (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    theran, highacidity

                    car - or cars? - saw an ad last night.  

                    But here's the thing.  Have you ever seen a Hummer in real life?  How many people really need a car that big for personal use?  Seriously.  With a price tag of $70,000 for the bigger model and the cost of fuel even at its lower level today, it is beyond ridiculous.

                    The Hummer is the poster child for the short-term thinking that has gone on in Detroit for years now.  All their eggs went into the large vehicle basket and now they are screwed because they have few to no competitive products to meet a changing marketplace.  It is a bad business model.  You'd think that people who spend years developing their products would have the presence of mind to keep some competitive product lines in the mix for when the market changes so they could adapt quickly.

                    Again - I don't oppose this bailout - but I do think they need serious adjustments to their business model.

                    •  This is tired. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      This is tired.  They have competitive products.  They produced SUV's because people got away from buying minivans as family haulers.  Just click this with an open mind.

                      I'm going to put this into NASCAR language so you understand: All you have to do is turn left. So why do you keep turning right? -Dick V. Electric 6

                      by Stomp 442 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:43:32 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                •  A bad example of fuel efficient (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  inclusiveheart, codeman38

                  vehicles, however this is just an example of the developments these companies are willing to undertake to meet a new market reality.
                  Congress should indeed take the opportunity to set conditions on the Big 3 to ensure appropriate improvements are made in their operational structure before doling out money without a second thought.

                  To do nothing makes no sense.

                  To allow these companies to fall behind competitors such as Toyota to such a degree that they will never catch up again, likewise.

                  "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

                  by Unenergy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:39:03 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  NASCAR is gone (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                limulus, djtyg, unionboy, alkalinesky, KimD

                just get that word out and the south, which has been pretty uniformly anti-bailout, will rise in support of the bailout.  

            •  Can't do it in a year, at all no way (12+ / 0-)

              might do it in two if plans are already pretty steady.  I come from a long line of GM people that have seen the management swing from pillar to pole on every possible issue.  The best thing we can do for GM in the long run is take the health care burden from the companies and, as part of a general health care reform, nationalize it.

              GM workers don't make anything remotely approaching seventy bucks an hour.  Probably about half that including benefits would be high.  Once you get above the Plant Manager stage the salaries go up really quick, but I've known lots of people in the General Foreman, Superintendant categories and they made good money, but nothing atmospheric.

              It is exactly an assault on the union.  Mirrors the one on Public Employee unions.  Note the idiot from Tenn on Hardball last night talking about Toyota and the right to work states.

              (-7.0, -6.4) "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man.'" Robbie Robertson

              by NearlyNormal on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:57:48 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  OK... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RunawayRose, Bronxist

     seems to me that even if the Big Three were making carbon-fiber, water-fueled flying cars, gave them away to people who collected 6 cereal boxtops and they (the Big Three) still made 300 percent profit (somehow), they'd STILL be in need of a bailout. (Which I'd STILL be in favor of)
              Maybe this is something Bill Gates and/or Steve Jobs could work together on: Taking over a nationalized auto industry.

              "Personal density is directly proportional to temporal bandwidth." Mondaugen's Law

              by Newton Snookers on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:19:50 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Exactly ... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                highacidity, Newton Snookers

                Which is why asking for a business plan makes sense.

                If it is a credible plan then the govt should fund it with some private match - e.g. $25 B from the US and $5B from private sources, all invested on the same terms.

                Otherwise, forget it.

                A bridge loan is fine, but a "pier loan" is not.

                "We will learn an enormous amount in a very short time, quite a bit in the medium term and absolutely nothing in the long term." Grantham on 2008 Crisis

                by Bronxist on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:35:55 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  The K Car?? (0+ / 0-)

              You're seriously basing your argument on the experiences of the automobile industry twenty-seven years ago? The K Car (which actually sold pretty well) was introduced in 1981. How is that at all relevant to the current automobile industry?

              Your point about needing to see a plan is credible, but it seems - like so many commenters - that people are basing their views on support for an industry that represents 10% of US employment and 4% of GDP based on opinions, and not facts.

            •  When you worked for GM (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Stomp 442

              did you find the management team to be overpaid, over confident in their abilities, out of touch with what people want?
              Did you find the union workers to be lazy, overpaid, with terrible, silly ideas that management listened to, but were completely impractical?
              These are the sort of false "either or" choices we are being presented with.
              It doesn't surprise me that people don't know what to do.

              Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men? It is the music of a people Who will not be slaves again!

              by axman on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:37:22 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  The K-car was a piece of shit (0+ / 0-)

              I owned one.  It fell apart around the engine (made in Japan) and left parts in its tracks.  If that's what a three-year design frame gets you, it isn't worth it.
              Supposedly, GM has the only American-made serial electric care ready to go, the Volt.  If the price comes down, the arguement can be made to keep GM afloat so we can transition to more efficient and environmentally-compatible transportation.  That may be worthwhile to keep us from being 100% dependent on foreign-made vehicles to keep whatever is left of our economy on the road.

              Well, I guess I don't know what you mean by "equal justice under the law." - Bushy McSpokesperson

              by gatorcog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:34:44 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The K car saved Chrysler for awhile (0+ / 0-)

                That K-car platform was used to produce a vehicle we all know as the mini-van.

                Tens of millions of these vehicles have been produced and for all of the crap they have taken as being blah, these vehicles are some of the most useful vehicles ever created.

                Even today, Chryslers version of the minivan is the gold standard from which all others are measured.

                That includes even better products from Toyota and Honda.

                If a family were to have only one vehicle, their smartest choice would be a minivan.

                SUV's came about because of the manufacturers being able to have them defined as a truck and therefore a different set of safety laws applied to them.

                It was noted that during their heyday in the 19990's that Chrysler and GM were grossing(profit) over $9,000 per SUV.

                They were sold to the American consumer by appealing to young women in the 25-49 age bracket at a time when gasoline was cheap and "big" was pushed as being safe, even though  these vehicles had less safety elements required and they were prone to rollovers.

                That's marketing for you.

                Republicans know a lot about selling a shoddy product, in the car business we used to call it "polishing a turd".

                "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

                by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:33:53 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Sorry, you are wrong (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The Japanese currently do not have superior cars to American as Ford Motor Company has equalled both Toyota and Honda in quality of vehicles.  Ford also has alternative vehicles--hybrid, with two more coming in 2010 and small vehicles that compete with the Japanese models.

              Also, Japan and Korea have been propped up by governments.  In Japan, it was the US government that propped up the Japanese auto industry after WWII.  After that, the Japanese government propped up their automakers so they could make vehicles cheap and flood the markets (which they did).

              Korea has been following that model.  Korea's government props up their automobile industry.

              Also, in most (if not all) of US competitors have national health care.

              There is not fair trade.  Any US vehicle going to an Asian market has to fit their requirements.  Most (all?) Asian countries won't allow the US companies to purchase property or build facilities in their countries.

              Plus, there is a huge tariff to pay when importing vehicles into Japan.

              So, government intervention for US competitors has worked quite well--for them and against us.

              •  that might be true but (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Ford Motor Company made for a better term "shit" for so many years who wants to go out on a limb and buy one of their vehicles. It isn't like we are talking about switching phone providers here, a vehicle is a major purchase that has to last for the duration of the payments and hopefully then some.

                You see, that is the problem they are facing right now. Word of mouth is killing the big three, no one trusts them to build decent cars anymore and it really doesn't matter if their quality is as good as the Japanese.

                You can't say that it is sloppy workmanship because Toyota and Honda have plants making cars here in the states. American workers building Japanese designed cars that last up to 200,000 miles.

                I do agree with the trade disputes but who negotiates such things?

          •  Honda can change a production line in 15 minutes? (15+ / 0-)

            Honda's factory down in the south is apparently so automated and computerized that it can switch from making one model of car to another in between 10 and 15 minutes.

            Hey people, we invented the automobile production line and we invented computers and it wasn't Japan that put a man on the moon, was it?  

            During WW II the auto industry, on emergency footing, switched to making tanks, half-tracks and jeeps.  That war only lasted a bit over three years, so no way did that take 2 years for them to retool.

            If we want different models and a different business model, we can get it, but the loss of that brick and mortar production asset makes no sense.  Production overseas is cheap, since oil for shipping is cheap, but when it no longer is?  What then?  Who knows what we may wish to build here in the US?

            There is loads of blame to go around, but don't let the Shock Doctrine boys destroy America's Unions.

            •  that may be so (9+ / 0-)

              But they cannot switch to a new model in less than 20 months.

              Toyota leads the world in the time it takes to bring a vehicle from design into production and that number is now about 17 months.

              Expect Detroit to take 30 months.

              For vehicles that are not gas/diesel based we enter the world of research and development.

              There simply isn't any manufacturer capable of producing electric vehicles that are quickly recharged, can drive highway speeds, go 100 miles before charge is necessary, and be made in mass production numbers exceeding a quarter of a million units per year.

              The same reality applies to Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. They still have a tendency to go boom in collisions.

              We are not there.

              We will get there.

              It's healthcare that has Detroit by the gonads.

              Everyone in the Auto business is at some stage in R&D for alternative fuel vehicles.

              "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

              by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:43:58 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SadEagle, HoundDog

                When I was a kid, well, younger anyway, and worked on the line for Fisher Body, we were off for weeks every summer as they retooled for the model year changes.  That was the culmination of months and months of work, years of work if it was a major change.  My Dad went down and worked for about three years getting Saturn up to speed before they had car one come off the production line.  And this was just a standard gas engine car.  Computer design is much quicker than the old styrofoam and clay models, but you still have to do much, much work to get the thousands of pieces to fit.

                (-7.0, -6.4) "I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man.'" Robbie Robertson

                by NearlyNormal on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:04:58 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  "we enter the world of research and development." (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                what have their R & D departments been doing for the last 5 to 10 years?

                •  The same thing (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Timaeus, Bluesee, Stomp 442

                  Battery life and weight have bedeviled science for a long time.

                  While I am not current on the average life of a battery in 2008, I know that from about 1970 until 2000 the realistic life of automobile batteries was 39 months.

                  Sure there were warranties on those batteries that lasted longer.

                  That marketing issue was handled in this manner.

                  Few batteries actually were sold at retail price.

                  All batteries were warranted after a period of time usually 12-24 months of free replacement with a pro-rata warranty that was calculated from a suggested retail price that was likely 40% higher than the price the customer paid for the new battery.

                  Example $100 retail battery with a 100 month warranty that included 24 month free replacement.
                  The battery usually sold for about $60.
                  It failed in 39 months.
                  Pro rata warranty replacement cost to consumer $41.
                  Battery warranty only good to the original purchaser.

                  The likelihood of the customer who replaced their battery when their car was 3-4 years old and then the customer keeping their car until this replacement battery died was in the range of 20%.

                  That is how the battery business has operated for a long time.

                  Today, the demand for extremely strong light weight rechargable batteries far outstrips our capability to produce the products.

                  Each year we move further towards that goal, billions of dollars and many of the best engineering and scientific minds have spent a great amount of time working to make battery life increase.

                  As a side note, last week, I had two vehicles in my family become unservicable.

                  Their ages, battery 1, 41 months, battery 2, 38 months.

                  "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

                  by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:00:46 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  many of these designs (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Stomp 442, KimD

                are already in the works, the full lead time isn't needed, its time to finish, and the time to retool some of the SUV and truck lines.

                With money to stay in business long enough to get the retooling program boosted with the already approved loans, they can get it done and get it done faster.

                Near death experiences can be good for corporations.

              •  gee (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                guess we should have started a bit sooner, say when president carter brought it up.

                suspicious, isn't it? who made all that extra money over the past 30 years. hmmmm.. nah, i can't think of anyone.

                ...where will it tickle you?

                by GANJA on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:23:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You bet that would have been better (0+ / 0-)

                  But Ronny Reagan represented the reversion of our nation to John Wayneism.

                  The automotive products brought about by the Oil Embargo hit the nations showroom floors in 1977 and are best remembered by the GM "A" body cars that are now so popular with many people who like to pimp them out.

                  When these vehicle were new, they were the first of the new generation of lighter more dependable vehicle and yet they were full of flaws and required a great amount of repairs to their emissions and electrical systems.

                  Yet their eye appeal has actually increased over time.

                  The 1974-76 offerings were wounded remnants of Detroit engineering as it hit the wall of change.

                  Just prior to that, Detroit was struggling to come to grips with the second level of Emissions standards and their offerings were based upon the application of old technology.

                  Transistorized/solid state ignition systems became the norm in 1975 and it was at that point the reliability of vehicles entered into a new era.

                  Computer control of many vehicle systems continued the advance in vehicle reliability to the point that most all of todays vehicles have a mileage lifespan that in the quarter of a million mile category.

                  Prior to 1975, that figure was far closer to 70-90 thousand.

                  I spent almost 20 years actively involved in the claims operation of an Automobile service contract company and from personal knowledge can vouch for these numbers being reasonably accurate.

                  "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

                  by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:47:10 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  reliability claims? (0+ / 0-)

                    detroit could make a car that would last me a thousand fucking years, but i'm not going to buy it if it is designed to run exclusively on sperm whale oil.

                    the whole damn kit and kaboodle (sorry george) needed re-inventing long ago. they fucked up.

                    ...where will it tickle you?

                    by GANJA on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:56:25 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Model Changeover on the Production Line (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cwholcomb, HoundDog, Stomp 442, sabishi

              is far different than introducing a new model. Most assembly plants can build multiple models simultaneously.  Either through parallel lines or flexible tooling. Changover between models is within the production cycle times of around 1 minute.  

              New vehicle development takes 18-24 months minimum.  Massive amounts of engineering, testing, build of tooling fixtures, prototyping etc.

            •  GM can change an assembly line in 15 minutes (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              drgardner, Stomp 442

              You can have the press beds and all tooling interchangble for that production facility.  You bring in your die setters; and at the lead off press you start rotating the new dies in and removing the old dies.  At the same time you continue running the line until the panel reaches the end of the line and is packed in a rack for shipment.  GM has profected the line change (die transition process) within the automobile industry.

            •  So what. We can do that in Detroit. (0+ / 0-)

              But you have to set the factory up for what the choices are, and THAT, my friend, takes a year. And to coordinate that factory with suppliers, takes time too.

              The automation is the problem, it is set up for insane high quality, high tech, and long runs. You CANNOT change it overnight.

              1940 technology was a different matter.
              And there weren't a surplus of Japanese and german cars clogging the ports because they couldn't be sold.

          •  this sounds consistent with my experience. When (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I mentioned a decade I was rounding off, to make the point that  after noticing their cash burn rate of $5 billion a month would consume their share of a $25 billion bailout in a few months.

            But even if they could get it down to a year, my main point is we need to see some plausible plans and analysis, not just assume pouring money on it with good intentions is going to work magic.    

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:21:04 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I agree a decade is too long Ajipon, (0+ / 0-)

            When I mentioned a decade I was rounding off, to make the point that  after noticing their cash burn rate of $5 billion a month would consume their share of a $25 billion bailout in a few months.

            Depending on how extensive the new model line or product change it can take from 1 to 7 now apparently.

            Changes within existing pre-arranged models can be done in minutes.

            But even if they could get a new product launch down to a year, my main point is we need to see some plausible plans and analysis, not just assume pouring money on it with good intentions is going to work magic.

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:23:34 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed... a decade is wildly pessimistic (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and very much in line with the pablum that has been spewing from Detroit for years.
            "Yeah, we COULD build more efficient cars but it would take at least five or ten years to 'retool'." I call BS on that.
            They use this word because most folks have no clue what it means. Perhaps a visit to Silicon Valley tomorrow might convince those embedded clowns at GM & Ford that electric is possible next year not next decade. All these guys need is the industrial infrastructure and some scratch.

            But then, I'd also like to know what happened to my personal jet-pack. Popular Mechanics said it would be available in ten years and that was back in the late fifties!

          •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            They switched to war production in World War II in very little time. A command economy can do amazing things. Stalinist Russia in the early 1940s was able to produce a massive war machine, with planes the superior of the Nazis and even our own by the end of the war. Now I'm not saying we should or need to do anything like Stalin. All I'm saying is that when there's a will there's a way, and "common wisdom" about things like retooling, etc., is misplaced.

            War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

            by Valtin on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:43:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  "Properly managed and lead"?? (0+ / 0-)

            If they could have, they would have.

            And who the heck can GM find to properly manage and lead it?

            Re-tooling expertise and corporate leadership are just about the only markets where demand exceeds supply right now.

        •  not so (9+ / 0-)

          If can take up to a decade to design, tool, and get into production even a modestly different new car line.

          I made this comment some time ago.

          GM has production lines in Europe producing good quality cars for our market.

          Moving production lines and know-how and retooling could be made in less than a year. That would be a first step of course.

          "It takes two to lie. One to lie, one to hear it." Homer Simpson

          by Euroliberal on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:52:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  In 1941, they went from making cars... (28+ / 0-)

   making tanks and airplanes in about 11 months. So let's kill this decade nonsense once and for all.

            •  lets give every fucking thing away to the Chinese (18+ / 0-)


              It appears that the Chinese car makers SAIC and Dongfeng have plans to acquire the Big 3:

              A take-over of a large overseas auto maker would fit perfectly into China's plans. As reported before, China has realized that its export chances are slim without unfettered access to foreign technology. The brand cachet of Chinese cars abroad is, shall we say, challenged. The Chinese could easily export Made-in-China VWs, Toyotas, Buicks. If their joint venture partner would let them. The solution: Buy the joint venture partner. Especially, when he's in deep trouble.

              At current market valuations (GM is worth less than Mattel) the Chinese government can afford to buy GM with petty cash. Even a hundred billion $ would barely dent China's more than $2t in currency reserves. For nobody in the world would buying GM and (while they are at it) Chrysler make more sense than for the Chinese. Overlap? What overlap? They would gain instant access to the world's markets with accepted brands, and proven technology.

              They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20 ~~ Dennis Kucinich

              by dkmich on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:21:51 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Isn't GM market valuation now about $25 to $30 (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lotlizard, Quicklund, alkalinesky


                I think I read that some are suggesting they sell of pieces of the business to raise cash to buy time.

                Saturn is a viable stand along business.  Hummer could be easily hived off.

                GMAC used to be their most profitable division, and could be sliced off and sold.

                It would be slighltly more challanging but OnStar could be sold off, I think it's almost a billion dollar business.

                If they sold off all the real estate and proporty (including those corporate jets) and leased back just what they needed they could raise a little more.

                But at a cash burn rate of $5 billion/month it's not going to buy much time.

                But the biggest problem is that most of the jobs, I think, are in the assembly and North American assembly just isn't profitable or competitive as it now stands.

                Worse, GM bought into an economy of scale strategy about a century ago.  Last time I had this discussion with the folks that new all the numbers they said that somewhere below  23% of the market share, was a death spiral.   No stable point of profitable operations.

                And that was before the big drop in volume.

                Unless we get some dramatic and creative breakthrough thinking Pontiac, Chevy, Buick, and Cadillac will be nostalgic memories.

                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:53:46 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Please come out of the 1970s.... (7+ / 0-)

                  They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20 ~~ Dennis Kucinich

                  by dkmich on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:02:22 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Dodge 2 stars? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    They improved some dkmich, but we don't have to go back even 10 years to see enormous gaps.  And even in this comparision their average is lowest, is it not.

                    Also, you have to be careful about subjective "customer satisfaction" surveys.

                    My comments were basead on warranty data from the automakers themselves seven or so years ago.  

                    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                    by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:17:04 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Fresh Chestnuts. (8+ / 0-)

                    Look at resale value, warrantee data for US vs Japanese cars.  Or talk to used car dealers.

                    US made vehicles typically expect major transmission repairs by about 100,000 miles.  While you see Toyatas often making it over 200,000 with no problems.

                    This is all part of the underlying problem.  

                    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                    by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:20:56 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Let's put this to rest once and for all... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Stomp 442

                      US made vehicles, specifically the GM line that I'm familiar with, do NOT "typically expect major transmission repairs by about 100,000 miles."  

                      That is complete BS.  

                      The powertrain warranty is now 100,000 miles.  Even the service interval on the transmissions is 100,000 miles.  

                    •  You seem to know (0+ / 0-)

                      What you are talking about.

                      So, I have to ask, why is that?? What is the major difference, and why can't American auto makers make cars that last? I have a Subaru, I've owned Toyotas all my life. I would love love love to buy American my next go around. But I am not going to throw my money down the drain on a car that dies at 100,000 miles. That ridiculous. It's been 30 years. Can't they fix this?

                      I still root for the dreamer. I thank God for the dreamer ~ Mos Def, Lifetime

                      by alkalinesky on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:17:02 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Oh, additionally, quality differences are (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    PsychoSavannah, alkalinesky

                    frequently cited as one of the primary reasons Toyata has been steadily gaining market share on GM steadily for over 40 years straight and didn't they just surpase them globally a few months ago.

                    Even when they've been charging premiums on top of list price, and GM has despartely resorted to employee discounts.

                    How do you explain this?

                    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                    by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:24:32 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Toyota's quality is no better than GM or Ford (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      cwholcomb, Ice Blue, Stomp 442

                      and in many cases, worse.  It ain't 1972, Toto.

                      •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        I'd love to see evidence for this. Warranty data. Recall data. That sort of thing. I'd like to believe you, but I don't. My one and only experience with an American car was a Saturn SL-2, 1999. It had a major transmission failure for a part under recall, I poured thousands of dollars into it, and it finally died at 120,000 miles. I now drive a 1996 Subaru Outback with 250,000 miles and still going strong.

                        Until I see some evidence of real quality, I don't forsee any time in the future I will be purchasing an American car.

                        I still root for the dreamer. I thank God for the dreamer ~ Mos Def, Lifetime

                        by alkalinesky on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:41:01 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                •  GM's market cap (4+ / 0-)

                  is $1.7B.

                  compared to Starbucks $5.86B.

                  Think about that as you sip coffee driving on the way to work this morning

                  If CEO's and their brethern have employment contracts, why do they insist that their employees don't need one?

                  by JDPITALIA on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:29:32 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And look at Enterprise value... (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Bluesee, HoundDog, Asherd

                    Why don't we just give them 1B and buy them out?

                    I know, Crazy idea.. but it may be better than this..

                    •  If it was only a billion I'd buy them out and (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Quicklund, alkalinesky

                      sell off Onstar, GMAC, Hummer, Saturn, and the real estate.  (I'd have to talk to some finance folks first, lol)  

                      Heck, I think even just the real estate is worth more than a billion.  Some of my former clients were looking into raising a lot more than this from selling all the real estate and property to a separate spin out and leasing it back.

                      OK, here the deal.  Let's tell the government to loan us just $5 billion. Well buy up all three, and sell off the pieces and save those jobs at least.

                      But it has to be much more than this.

                      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                      by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:50:13 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  It can't have fallen that low can it JDPITALIA? (0+ / 0-)

                    Someone would have bought it just to get OnStar which I think is worth about a billion.

                    Or Saturn which is more.  Or GMAC?

                    One analyst suggested they could raise $5 billion and buy time just saling these pieces of the business.

                    Isn't it about $28 billion which is less than a quarter of a few years back.  I have no idea why the stockholders aren't livid and haven't thrown this clown Rick Wagner out?

                    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                    by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:46:32 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  the numbers (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Timaeus, Bluesee, HoundDog

                      per Yahoo;

                      610,460,000 shares outstanding

                      $2.79 per share at close 11/19

                      610.46M x 2.79 = $1,703,183,400

                      Now the Yahoo (always suspect and outdated) published
                      enterprise value $30.96B

                      So GM is trading @ 10% it's enterprise value (the sum of the parts)

                      If CEO's and their brethern have employment contracts, why do they insist that their employees don't need one?

                      by JDPITALIA on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:18:19 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yikes, this is truly shocking. I thought I heard (0+ / 0-)

                        someone quote $27 billion yesterday.

                        I'm surprised Warren Buffet hasn't bought and sold it for parts.

                        I thought Onstar was worth a billion.
                        And GMAC used to be their most profitable division.

                        And at one time last week I thought someone suggested they might get $5 billion for Hummer, Saturn, and a few other easy spin offs?

                        I'm confused.

                        But if it's this low instead of a bailout, the government should buy it, and then tell the management team what they should do. lol

                        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                        by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:44:41 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  $2.50 this morning (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Remember, the company net equity at 9/30/08 was $60 billion NEGATIVE. And it's worse now.

                        The only reason the stock is trading at all is hope for a rescue that will magically make their $170 billion in debt & obligations disappear.

                •  I think this has a lot to do with your (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Stomp 442


                  But the biggest problem is that most of the jobs, I think, are in the assembly and North American assembly just isn't profitable or competitive as it now stands.

                  Problem is, other countries pay their workers too little. We can't race to the bottom and expect to win.

                  McCain, Republican Party, Palin = Captain, Sinking Ship, Anchor.

                  by Pescadero Bill on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:44:44 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Race to sustainable, not the bottom (0+ / 0-)

                    Look, when many of the other car manufacturers are running successful American operations, and UAW/GM/Ford/Chrystler are not, you need to take a hard look at what are major cost factors in your production.

                    Sustainable wages for auto assembly are in the range of $15-20/hr as proven by Honda, Toyota, etc.

                    •  But what about those Honda, Toyota... (0+ / 0-)

                      plants (and there are more than a few, AIUI) that pay the same wages as the Big 3, and in some cases, even more. That was the case, last year in Georgia as far as I can recall. Obviously the reason is to keep the UAW at bay, but nonetheless, it is what it is, and that's offshores in the U.S. paying UAW scale wages.

                      "And when justice is gone, there's always force."

                      by soundchaser on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 05:28:14 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  this was only switching production to a (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              relentless, lotlizard, Quicklund

              vastly simplier product with no requirement to compete against competetors already ahead of us in quality, mph, etc, nor union, regulatory, union, or profitability constraints.      

              Yes, if the government wants to order up and apay for full production runs like this they might be able to switch over to something in two years, but what about the design of a  new product that can competively produced and sold against the competition, and the consumers will buy at profitable price?

              It's not like none us thought about this before.  This challenge has been front and center, top priority for over a decade.

              If memory serves me, GM was aiming at cycle times of about four years about five years ago, last time I had direct knowledge.  

              They were astonished when Chrylser did the K-Car in about two years on an existing platform with 85% of the same parts.  

              It's been a goal.  It hasn't happened.

              OK, ten years may be too long, but I was trying to make the point that putting up pictures of empty buildings isn't going to help.

              And if the Democrats blow up our new found credibility by passing a low forbiding the half-way sunk Titanic from going under we will look like fools and may not get another chance.

              I'm arguin for well thought out viable plans, of which I haven't seen yet.

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:46:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  If you're OK with both management and the UAW (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HoundDog, Quicklund, WedtoReason

              … having to obey the orders from the government and the military without question, sure. That's not the kind of transition people are talking about — yet. People are leery because they see what's happening with the financial industry bailout.

              See the national finals of Dutch children's chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen's 2008 Song Contest December 14 in Hoorn!

              by lotlizard on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:00:58 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm ready. I'm good and ready. (14+ / 0-)

                I've been watching these Detroit clowns lying their asses off for 35 years. They keep advertising, breathlessly, about `GM innovation', but I'll be damned if I ever see any of it on the road anywhere. The only innovation I see is borrowed/bought from other countries, and generally scaled up, cheaped down and otherwise warped to a level of functional mediocrity.

                What Detroit builds (and foists off on the American people) is big bullshit cars, and craptastic little cars, where they try to squeeze every single dime out of every single part. To the point of multiple random failures. I don't know if it's planned obsolescence, but it's obsolescence none the less.

                Here's an idea, Detroit. Why don't you try building a great little car? Not good, but all-world cutting edge. Top price/performance in every single part. You know, like Toyota and Honda?

                Still waiting for that.... After 35 years, I'm quite willing to give the government a shot. Couldn't do any worse.

                •  The Purpose of "GM Innovation" (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  xaxado, Asherd

                  The purpose of "GM Innovation" isn't actually the development of produceable designs. In reality "GM Innovation" is about 3 things:

                  First, it is there to lobby lawmakers. Lawmakers and administration are more ammenable to backing off of CAFE standards, EPA requirements, etc. if they have cover, something they can point at and say its going to happen.

                  "Senator, the proposed restrictions will be an economic burden. With current technology it will $2000 dollars to the production cost of the car leading to a decrease of 3.5 million sales in the next year and a loss of 250 jobs. Furthermore, we have advanced development programs that will address this issue so you can tell your constituents that the improvements will be made."

                  You don't have to convince everybody in congress either, you just have to give the true believers the wedge they need.

                  Second, it is there to attract government grants for technology development. GM will get DOE money for advanced fuel research or whatever which offsets their out of pocket costs to "innovate"

                  Finally, it is there for marketing. You produce an add campaign with GM "Engineers" talking about all of the advanced development. You produce a prototype for the auto shows and you leak "advance plans" to all the car magazines.

                  Actually producing the designs is actually a liability. It requires investments and production planning. The needed changes for producability and affordability scale back the bold claims made. Finally once in production it loses its effect on lawmakers and marketing. Concrete things can be criticized, dreams cannot.

                  Live to create the world you want to live in.

                  by beerm on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:05:50 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Different times different needs (6+ / 0-)

              1941 Detroit didnt need the same type of changes 21st century Detroit faces.

              If you are younger than 50 you might not have a good memory on what was considered dependable in 1941.

              I can state with a very great amount of certainty that pre 1975 automobiles were a whole lot more sensitive to atmospheric conditions than you might imagine.

              Then, ignition systems had moving parts and were electro-mechanical.

              Tune-ups were necessary every 10,000 miles and driving in cold damp weather was likely to cause a distributor cap to fail causing the engine to misfire, and going through water puddles could cause the engine to stop.

              As for 1941 tires and ignition were major pains to motorists.

              Todays vehicles are not comparable to mid twentieth century vehicles, the worst vehicle on the market today is likely 5-10 times more reliable and safe than any vehivle from 60 years ago.

              "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

              by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:55:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No doubt there's been huge innovation (0+ / 0-)

                I drove MG's when I was a kid. 1940's technology to the bitter end. In retrospect, it seems like I spent every other weekend crawling under the hood trying to keep them running.

                Now I drive a Toy-Taco 5-speed. I change the oil once a year, and the air filter and wipers every other year. Et' voila! Ten years, 90K miles and going strong. Granted, it's (over)due for a new battery, brake reline, coolant flush/hoses and a tune-up, but it still drives like new.

                As for the WWII Detroit conversion, they were going up against the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe, so it's not like it was an EASY deal.

                •  It wasn't easy (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  What Detroit did in 1941 was buile military designs on current technology.

                  Engines tansmissions and drive axles were the same.

                  Many chassis were used from standard production.

                  Tanks were problably the grandest conversion but even then, all of the technology was off the shelf.

                  Armaments and armor were added to the basic products.

                  I am not an expert, but I have seen both the vehicles from around 1940 and the military vehicles produced based on their components.

                  Much production was from the truck plants and Cadillac to begin.

                  "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

                  by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:44:27 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  My sweet MD TD (0+ / 0-)

                  broke a couple axles trying to drive up and down Potrero Hill.

                  The frame was oak...not steel.

            •  I'm guessing you're not an engineer (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              limulus, theran, Ice Blue, sabishi, alkalinesky

              In WW2, the first tanks and halftracks to roll off the assembly lines were hunks of shit that lasted 10 minutes in combat. But those inferior products "sold" because the US Army had to deploy anthing that would roll.

              In 2009, "hunks of shit" will not sell. It is not enough to merely produce something that will roll, one must produce something that will out-compete the competition on the sales floor.

              Not to mention the saftey element.

              The notion that entirely new product lines can be designed, tooled up, and sold in 2 years is rather fanciful. On a war-time footing with the entire population mobilized and working 60-hour weeks and governmental decrees to suppliers to drop all competing business ... maybe. But not in a peacetime world where the new autos have to be designed from the ground up, new parts have to be designed and suppiers trained to make them, new tools to be machined, and all these new components have to be tested and perfected ... nope.

              I've worked on much less ambitious new tech projects and none of them were completed in anything close to 2 years. Fact is, new designs and ideas often do not work and require lots of testing to get right. Suppliers and factories take time to come up to speed on entirely new manufacturing requirements.

              This description is not nonsense, as you alledge. This is the world of engineering as it functions in the real world.

              •  You are right (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                American manufacturers may be able to design and produce a new vehicle and get it to market in 30-39 months.

                But that doesn't have anything to do with new technology such as alternative fuels or electric cars.

                That is the future but if it was easy there would be electric vehicles from somewhere now.

                Toyota is the fastest to market for any vehicle and they are in the 17-20 month range.

                As a note, Toyota tried to make a ceramic gas or diesel engine for over 30 years before putting that project on the back burner. Reliability problems with distortion and cracking were never overcome.

                "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

                by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:42:47 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  it takes that long (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  to churn out a new design but what about cars that are already built by GM for Europe. What would be the major design changes for that if were built here in the states?

                  I can't imagine it taking that long to retool a line to run those already in existence.

                  •  Devil in the details (0+ / 0-)

                    Tooling up to produce an existing design in production elsewhere would of course be significantly faster. As for it taking under or over two years ... the devil is in the details.

                    The only detail I know (heard of at least) is these European-market autos do not meet US emission standrads. So ssome redesign would be required.

          •  It takes 6 years to bring (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HoundDog, Stomp 442, jds1978, alkalinesky

            a whole new idea from paper to production, revising existing models takes far less, normally they do it once a year, Ford is doing a quicky switch before years end to move to the 2010 model year on the Fusion.

            Don't let them crush our unions support the Loan

            -Gabe, Detroiter

            •  In 2002, gas was $1.35/gallon (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Timaeus, Euroliberal, jds1978, addisnana
              People seriously misunderestimate the damage to the car companies that was done not by "peak oil" or "China and developing countries wanting more oil" but dumbass Dubya and his dumbass war on Iraq and his dumbass laissez-faire dollar policy.  Peak oil's impact is inevitable, but it was not inevitably now.  This has a LOT to do with Iraq, and no one is seriously making damn Republicans and Liebercrats accountable for the damage they caused to industry as a result!

              We had a generation who's had gas prices artificially kept free of inflationary pressures, and a generation of industries that counted on our government's efforts to keep big oil artificially cheap.  Heck, gas was $1.35/gallon in 1981.  Just allowing that price to adjust for inflation would have yielded the gas prices we saw a few months ago.  It was Dubya that screwed up that equation, just as he screwed up so much else, and automakers are paying.  

              And note this isn't just about the Big Three.  Toyota has this oh-so-great product, but is expected to have FLAT sales at best because of our market's overall devastational impact on things.  The Big Three are the biggest victims because they depended on our government's price protection for big oil most of all (for dealing with legacy costs).

        •  hound dog you are on the money! (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eaglecries, Losty, melpomene1, addisnana

          this has been my major gripe about the bridge loan.

          25 billion will not tide them over longe enough to roll out something people will buy.

          I think maybe they ought to be looking to limited partnerships with european electric car manufacturers and work a deal to retrofit them to american standards or something that is more immediate and can produce profits for them and introduce alternative models in the US (a win-win)

          THAT might be a good plan but they will ahve to think outside the box. I see no use to 25 Billion dollars for them. How are they planning to use it to make themselves solvent? I want an answer to that.

          •  NPR had an exciting and encouraging program on (5+ / 0-)

            last week, about a high school in Philidelphia that has designed, an "X-Car' or something, which is an all electric vehicle that is winning all sort of awards and apparently could be produced now, if we developed an infrastructure of charging stations.

            These are the kinds of things that need to be urgently analyzed to see if they could be ramped up to produce enough jobs in an accelerated transition.

            So far, thought, the Big 3 CEOs aren't talking about this kind of innovation, as far as I've seen.  

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:57:14 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Chevy Volt is coming in 2010 (6+ / 0-)

              its CEO put all hands on deck and risked the shop on it.


              I read a really great article on it i think in entrepreneur magazine a few  months ago. Or it might have been Kiplingers. Anyway, they really pulled out all the stops as the CEO decided that this was their only chance at survival.

              I dont know what the other CEOs have been doing. I know that I'd buy a VOLT tomorrow if it was available.

            •  Just wanted to say thanks (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HoundDog, xaxado, dawnt, firemage

              For your comments.  They are very enlightening.

              McCain * Poverty First

              by EastCoastShock on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:04:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Are you talking to me EastcoatShock. If so (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                thanks.  I needed to here this, cuz I could sleep this last night so stayed up all night blasting out about 100 comments.

                As I reread some of them I'm embarrased to see so many mispelligs, and my terrible habit of spelling phoenectically to the point of mixing up words.

                I've always done this for some reason.  Oh well, this blogging is supposed to be like convesation right?

                But a lot of folks use spell checkers even in comments?  

                Which makes me suspicious, like what are they trying to hide?  lol   Are they insecure about something?  

                Oh, well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

                But, I better try to go to sleep.

                Oh, yeah, now I remember I was trying to go to sleep when I couldn't stop thinking about the fellow who said GMs capitialization was on $1.9 Billion.  This can't be right.  It has to be at least $28 billion.

                So I got up to do a WSJ google, when I got distracted by another 30 articles and comments.

                But now it's noon on the next day.  I'm too old to get off cycle like this.  Sheesh.

                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:49:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  The bridge loans are different (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            stiela, jds1978

            Step back, think, the Big three problems are a symptom of the illness.

            The illness is healthcare costs.

            What does this nation do if within a matter of six months 3-5 million Americans have neither a paycheck, health insurance, or pension.

            If that happens those numbers may grow exponentially in 12 months.

            In other sectors of the economy.

            Government then has these millions as taxpayers today.

            Or these very same Americans will be in need of a safety net that is going to be called welfare if we don't fork over this money and buy this nation time to fix the REAL problem.

            This is the trickbag we are facing with this crisis.

            It is the one that has been engineered to occur as the Administrations transition.

            You can bet your ass that the Republicans have their messages ready to go, faulting Democrats for everything, beginning thth Unions, then lazy people, then, race will play a part, then Immigrants.

            This issue is for the whole game, economic sectors will fall like dominos, and this is a very real probability.

            The focus on the Auto industry isn't necessarilly for a cure to what ails the industry.

            It is to help Americans before they are out in the cold and bad shit happens as a result.

            "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

            by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:55:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  We could save the taxpayers... (13+ / 0-)

          a lot of money by insisting that the executives who make over one million a year get reduced to a dollar a year.  Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor took home $28 million last year.  (Shoot, I would have run the company into the ground for ten per cent of that!)  Also, just what justification can they imagine is possible for Rick Wagoner (CEO of GM), Mulally and Robert Nardelli (CEO of Chrysler) each riding off to Washington from Detroit in their respective companies private jets (out of a fleet of private jets for each company) to the tune of $20,000 per each round trip.  They couldn't ride together and save the taxpayers $40,000?  Better yet, since they are coming to beg, couldn't they each ride coach on Northwest for $288 round trip?  Even first class would have only been about $900 each.  They are outrageous.  There are, at last count, 700,000 children going to bed hungry every night in America.  And then to lie about the autoworkers pay and whine about how that is the cause of all their ills?  They are unconscionable.  If we bail them out, I say we insist that those in the executive suite be fired and forced to interview to get their jobs back.

          •  outsource the CEO's (14+ / 0-)

            We need cheaper and smarter workers to replace our CEOs.  Our labor pool of CEOs have become too high priced and their skills are outdated.

            The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. Thomas Jefferson

            by Thea VA on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:21:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  The traveling together to save $ was a "strawman" (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jds1978, kingyouth

            Their contracts would never allow them to travel together. (back when their stocks were valuable, an accident would have definitely caused a calamity)

            Obama/Biden '08 "to represent all Americans"

            by mjd in florida on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:32:07 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, I know--I didn't really expect... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mjd in florida

              that they would travel together--but it does seem that when they cut thousands of jobs (GM has already cut at least 50,000 jobs) to save money, that they could start chopping expensive corporate jet fleets.  GM has nine G4's at about $35 million a pop.  Let's see, that amounts to $315 million (not to mention the expenses for jet jockeys and fuel, etc.) that could go to paying down the debt.  Yes, I know it is just a drop in the bucket (GM is at least $58 billion in debt) but it is the principle of the matter.  When the GM execs were criticized by the unions for these types of perks, Wagoner reportedly said that the corporate jets were "non-negotiable".  It seems to me that if they are asking for a handout, that there are a lot of items that need to be chopped before any more workers are let go.

            •  It wasn't about them traveling together (0+ / 0-)

              as much as it was representative of the lack of effort on the part of the executives to sacrifice their own wealth and comfort. What's wrong with an executive flying first class through an airline? Nothing. But those guys would never consider it as an option -- and that was more the point. Those guys won't consider any option that causes them to give up something.

              •  i remember (0+ / 0-)

                back in I guess 2003 I was driving across country with my Dad to New Mexico from Kentucky. As you can imagine there just isn't a whole helluva lot on the radio in Kansas but I do remember the news about a major airline was negotiating a new contract with the Pilots Union. The Union had agreed to take a pay cut in order to keep the Airline afloat and on that very same day the CEO's of the same airline voted themselves a huge pay increase. Needless to say the negotiations fell through.

                Somewhere in that lies some of the problems, they want everyone else to sacrifice but when it comes to them, better not take away their fleet of jets, or golden parachutes, or business retreats to spas. Give them the 25 billion with no questions asked because we wouldn't understand how to run a corporation.

            •  If they traveled together (0+ / 0-)

              they would also each need to bring a lawyer and a media team to record every conversation because of anti-trust concerns.

          •  Put Executives in an auction (0+ / 0-)

            Let the market decide their value.

            "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

            by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:57:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, Bill Ford has been refusing to cash his (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wings Like Eagles

            paychecks until Ford turns a profit.  (Link.)

            William Clay Ford, Jr. was the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Ford Motor Company until a couple years ago.  He was pushing hard for the development of green cars, but since all these do-nothing housewives all neeeeded their goddamn SUVs, he was demoted to mere board member.

            Maybe now the company will listen to him.

            A jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn (D-TX)

            by Ice Blue on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:30:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  What many people AREN'T talking about (18+ / 0-)

          is that there are many very lean, efficiently run companies pared down to the bone because of the price cuts demanded by the big 3 auto-makers over the last 20-30 years, who will go out of business right along with the auto-makers.  

          They don't have the cash reserves to limp along while the companies get themselves re-organized.  When I hear the number a million unemployed, I shake my head.  It will be far more than 1 million affected.  

          •  those are just US jobs (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            imagine how many people are going to be laid off in Mexico where a lot and I mean a lot of your cars guts are made from the steering wheel to the wiring harness in the dash. I know, I used to make the wiring harness and it went across the border in 2002.

        •  GM has loads of good designs overseas, clonable (9+ / 0-)

          Look, things are tough in Europe too, and they have nifty more economical cars there that would do well in the US.   GM has some quite decent cars here in the US, if they would promote them.  Taken a look at the Chevy Malibu lately?  It is a credible alternative to the Accord and Camry.

          And that crushing $25 Billion cost?  Hey, to pass the $700 billion bailout package they had to BRIBE a group of GOP Congressmen with $140 Billion of pork.  So to save Wall Street they are willing to piss more than five times as much down a rathole with a day's consideration, but to save our nation's core auto industry?  nada?  Who are these treasonous bastards?

          And remember Social Security, what a huge disaster that was?  Because it needed the overwhelming sum of $75 Billion to remain solvent.  So to pass the bailout they signed off on nearly twice as much in "sweetners" without anyone blinking?  I guess that shows how totally craven the Republican Party has become.  Social Security?  Evil, let it die.  AIG?  A key part of the American way of life, our kind of people, what's good for AIG is good for America!

          This is ALL about the Republican philosophy of union-busting and turning America into a low-wage nation of mindless and disenfranchised sheep.

        •  It is time that needs to be bought (12+ / 0-)

          Fix healthcare and many of the legacy costs are removed from the price of American vehicles, and while the products they have to sell are not the right mix, there is an opportunity to turn the corner.

          Look at these elements;

          The American vehicles would become about $1400 more price competetive in a matter of months.

          A "buy US" tax incentive for consumers could do the same thing as a tarrif but it does not add a penny to imported vehicles, only an incentive for Americans to buy American.

          Energy costs have inched back into an area that may give a year or two longer to deal with the switchover to smaller more fuel efficien gasoline engines in the short run.

          Put a carrot in front of the American automakers such as guaranteeing large Governmental fleet purchases for vehicles that are electric.

          Do the same for vehicles getting 40MPG.

          There are ways to work out of this situation.

          What the Republicans want is to throw a grenade into the Automakers tent and do sever damage and blame it on anyone but themselves.

          They need to be called out, with some type of commercials that discuss cars and insurance and how American cars cost more due to our American health insurance system.

          Make the Insurance companies look like they are the guilty party that has nearly killed American industry, get people mad as hell, as they realize this has been going on for over 40 years.

          We have the Government in our hands on January 20.

          All we need to do is getoperating in "safe mode" until the spring.

          "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

          by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:36:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I could support your proposals wmc418 (6+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            theran, ksh01, pacplate, wmc418, jds1978, wvmom

            The Detroit Big 3 problems with health care cost are a great argument for a sigle payer universal health plan in the US, which I would support.

            I could also see taking over the retirement and pension benefits.  We'll have to do it anyway eventually, or let several generations of workers get screwed which wouldn't be fair.

            Workers, retirement and pension benefits, as well as retirement health care should all be covered by national plan independent of companies anyway, IMO.

            And we could argue these part are not really subsidies but transitional assistence while we upgrade the nation to better health and retirement plan we ought to already be doing.

            And that are putting our companies at a competitive disadvantage.

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:32:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  A workable solution exists (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pacplate, xaxado, jds1978

              The reality of the inter-connectivity of the Auto Industry's problems and what ails the rest of the nation is startling.

              Someone in power must address the nation and deliver this message inorder to create a national consciousness about the issues.

              From that point I beleive that most pragmatic Americans will form the consensus needed to effect positive change.

              "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

              by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:04:35 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  So few people mention pensions (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              limulus, theran, Saxum

              I should do a tag check to find the excellent diaries from over two years ago regarding what happens to pensions in bankruptcies. I'm amazed few have discussed this aspect of Big 3 bankruptcies.

              •  From my experience (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                The pensions usually get kicked into the Pension Gaurantee Trust.

                That is where all good pension plans go when the original issuer fails.

                Problem is the pensions become numbers that are not far different from Social Security payments.

                Think of retired Airline Pilots who were making 125K per year and were retired at 80% salary or 100K.

                These pilots would receive a maximum benefit of somewhere near 40K per year or a 60K decrease in income, even though these individuals bargained for and delivered on their end of the bargain they get hurt.

                The same is true for those receiving smaler pensions, if their pension hits the federalized plan they, too, will only receive a percentage of their former payment.

                I am pretty sure about this, but, if you need actual detail, check out the plan.

                "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

                by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:59:40 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  yes....and.... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  the particularly disturbing situations are those who are reduced to poverty because of PGT pension a certain point, the dinkiness of social security benefits combined with reduced pension payments will not be enough to live on in any circumstances.

                  I'm not discounting the effect of reduced pensions on those who made more. It seems to me that a pilot, for example, who may have house payments, alimony, child support, etc. to pay and retired on the expectation of a certain benefit are being treated unfairly as well. It's in the expectations and the planning a reasonable person makes for retirement. It's not always that people can go back to work at what they know or sell a house they never thought they'd have to sell in this market.

                  It's a comfort to think that those folks may have the wherewithal to sell something and/or change their lifestyle, no matter how unfair it is, in order to meet reality.

                  But the low wage worker relying on a pension and the pittance of social security....I fear for them the most, they will not have as many options.

                  •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    That is the sad truth.

                    Millions of mighty proud and very patriotic people live their lives earning just enough to get by, doing work that extracts a toll on their bodies, and wind up living at the edge of poverty and society in this nation.

                    It seems that a lot of our nations problems stem from small town being unable to keep their native born talent near home.

                    We have always been a mobile people with most everyone having been an immigrant or related to one.

                    It seems to be in our collective DNA to seek out oportunity.

                    When this occurs, what happens is those who remain lose their best, and those who leave must now compete to survive in new places where they are just another person.

                    This lack of a personal support system leads to problems in the urban areas.

                    "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

                    by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:44:58 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  This is the argument for 401Ks (0+ / 0-)

                    Defined benefit plans screw workers if the company goes under.

                    Of course management doesn't care - if the company goes under it's no longer their problem.

          •  Fix healthcare? (0+ / 0-)

            Think about it... someone still needs to pay!

            It either comes out of GM's money (and remember - they signed contracts to pay those costs with their eyes wide open) or out of our pockets and GM's pockets as taxpayers.

            So why is changing how we pay for healthcare a solution for GM?  It only works if we use it as a backdoor subsidy for them.

        •  Subsidies (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rolandzebub, chrome327

          If you look at all the subsidies given to useless causes maybe this subsidy would make sense. One example I can come up with is subsidizing farmers not to grow crops. Subsidies like these are not what's needed in a failing economy. Remember this bail out is a LOAN that could save millions of jobs. If something isn't done you can be sure the recession will quickly turn into a depression.

          True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness. Albert Einstein

          by desnyder on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:44:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  With the CAD System that GM has, you can go from (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HoundDog, MichiganGirl

          the design to Pre-Production and Production in 18- 24 months.  You have suppliers that has specialized tooling for galvanized steel for any platform that is being proposed.

          From design to production will take at most 2 model years.

          •  Well, this is great improvement from the last (0+ / 0-)

            time I was there.  

            But my original point is at $5 billion a month loss rate, which is what I think I heard earlier today, this is $120 billion.

            I think we should see better plans, is all.

            To make sure that whatever we do is a success.

            So Democrats enhance our credibility not squander it in a boondoggle of the sorts I suspect these CEOs are trying to run by us now.  

            I hope I'm wrong.  But let's hear how $25 will help.

            And if the idea is the VOLT car, fantastic, but let then put in extra money and tax credits to acclerate the infrastructure of charging stations or whatever else is needed to make it really work and create real lasting jobs.  

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:36:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Oh one other point cwholcomb. We had CAD systems (0+ / 0-)

            6 years ago too.  This wasn't the problem.  It's the management system, production engineering, retooling, manufacturing systems change overs, coordination with the supply chain, etc. that create delays.

            Then there's always unexpected rework, when you try to put it all together and discover the access to the electrical systems are blocked by the new air condition systems that weren't there before.

            Or the assembly order needs to be changed because some supplier did something that made sense in their factory that doesn't quite work on in the next one.  

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:40:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You have GM Die Makers work with the outside (0+ / 0-)

              suppliers. They have an inherent interest in a good design because once the dies are in production that will increase their butt time.  If you have sloppy die work it will prolong die-tryout and will pist off the skilled in house die makers.  If you have the try-out people working with the supplier you will minimize die-tryout from 12 months to 2 or 3 months.  Once the dies are productionized you retrofit them into the presses and start production.

        •  Except the "higer quality, more attractive" (0+ / 0-)

          More attractive? if you park a dozen of these things on a lot only a car nut can tell most of them apart.
          Higher quality/  When the Hundai first became available folks bought it based on price, the "quality" was chancy at best.
          I really believe these days that American workers make the best product they are allowed to.

          Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men? It is the music of a people Who will not be slaves again!

          by axman on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:28:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes I was one of those (0+ / 0-)

            who bought based on price... and the car quality has gone up since then but their customer service really SUCKs... and I will never beta test a car again... sorry for the off topic...but I'm emotionally invested

            O - It's not just for Oprah anymore!

            by crkrjx on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:10:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Your numbers are way off in some instances. (5+ / 0-)

          The white collar criminals on Wall Street snap their fingers and get $700 billion.

          The auto industry with it's blue collar union workers are asking for a LOAN of $25 billion and it's 'get lost'?

          Come on, using phrases like "bail out" when we all know it's LOAN. Who sent you here?

          Hey people, don't trust this person.

          McCain, Republican Party, Palin = Captain, Sinking Ship, Anchor.

          by Pescadero Bill on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:32:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not against an auto industry bailout (0+ / 0-)

          if they bring in some of the people who manage Honda and Toyota to take over for the people who kept building bigger and bigger SUVs while oil prices were skyrocketing... those people need to go and they need to NOT have my money

          and I really would like a say on how my money is spent since I seem to get less and less of it to spend myself...

          O - It's not just for Oprah anymore!

          by crkrjx on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:00:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Toyota's offering 9 truck, SUV, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RunawayRose, jds1978, unionboy

            and van models, and 8 car models on their website right now.

            Honda's a better with 10 car models, and 6 truck, SUV, and van models.

            Gm's got 37 car models, and 60 truck, SUV, and van models, but a lot of those truck, and van models are for industrial purposes.

            GM could definitely pare down their line up, but they're making some good cars, some needed industrial vehicles, but they've been expanding into hybrids over the past few years, and they've got some really exciting things like the Volt in the pipeline.

            They've been trying to make improvements recently, but they just waited too long to do it.

            None of that was the worker's call though, they just built what they were told to, they don't have a say in what models they get to build.

            "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

            by MichiganGirl on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:04:19 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Palin could run Auto industry (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and Limbaugh could be in charge of P&D. WTF, does Repug Kool-Aid come in a Democrat flavor?

          The CEOs milked this NW Airlines milked Minnesota, like Lay milked Enron, like the current CEO of Sears is treating that retailer like a cash cow, like WS and its' deriviatives milked our Treasury.

          If failure or contrived failure used as a business tool/model is allowed, Palin and Limbaugh could run industries.

          Healthcare is number one. Take it out of the business model. Take bailout out of the equation and the necessity of thinking The Big 3 has to survive. Like WS Investment Banks, obviously not a neccessity.

          WS got the bailout so they could invest in business. Banks were to open up lending. Do you see them standing up? Nope. Why should they until they find out if a bankrupt nation is willing to bailout a bankrupt auto industry. If The Big 3 have a business plan that our Investment Banks can believe in they should/would jump in. What else have they done with the money except keep their status quo?

          We are more interested in tracking the DOW then investing in re-structuring an economy headed to nowhere.

          The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results.

          Get out of the bailout box. Demand a longterm business plan and CEOs in their present forms must go. Bill Gates must have some prodigies out there by now. Business is about risk..status quo is about losing ground everyday. Make the Big 3 compete with big ideas...there is only one winner, and if Henry Ford could do it with giving us "any color we wanted", this may have to do for now.

          If today you are in the same position you were yesterday, you are losing the race.

        •  One of the big problems... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...associated with a Chapter 11 reorganization (which I prefer) is that no one will buy a car from a bankrupt company because of fears that their warrenty will not be honored. Why doesn't Congress just appropriate a few billion to guarantee their warrenties? A much cheaper option and one which would guarentee the real change needed for the companies to survive.

        •  They have ALREADY PRODUCED an electric car in the (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Timaeus, theran, Ice Blue

          90s that would go 100 miles on a 45-minute charge in any electrical outlet when they thought they were going to have to meet stricter standards.  People (Tom Hanks was one of the testers) who test drove it loved it and wanted to buy them.  When the car industry found that it could circumvent the standards, they ordered the test cars back in and literally crushed them flat so they would not be accessible to anyone.  

          Go to YouTube and search for "Who Killed the Electric Car?"  and watch it--there will be several parts.  The documentary has won awards.

          Now if they were able to do it then and already should have the plans or know-how somewhere, why aren't they doing it now or at least working toward that?  They are dragging their heels.  Someone who worked on the engineering of those cars should still be alive after ten years and should be brought back in.  

          The executives should be demoted to consultants and paid 100,000 a year, which is twice what I make.

        •  Not Right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          GM is losing $5 billion a month.

          Wait, how is the "$5B per month" figure not also vaporous?

          GM  Declares $4.2B Adjusted Loss in Third Quarter

          How responsible are you, and where did you get your figure, and how can you post it without attribution, and why did everyone accept your figure without questioning it?

          This, to me, is part of the problem, and it is quite ironic that that this should happen as part of this post.

          Please explain.

        •  About that five billion a month... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bluesee, marsanges

          I just love corporate accounting.

          I have no idea what it means when people say that GM is losing $5,000,000,000 a month. That sum works out to nearly $20,000 per employee every month. I'm not sure if they could really lose that much even if they stopped building cars entirely, yet kept all employees on the payroll.

          So, looking at their income statement, I see the following tidbit:

          All numbers are in thousands

          Income from Continuing Operations
          PERIOD ENDING31-Dec-0731-Dec-0631-Dec-05
          Operating Income or Loss(4,390,000)9,277,000(1,163,000)
          Total Other Income/Expenses Net 2,284,0002,721,000
          Earnings Before Interest And Taxes(3,351,000)11,998,000(1,163,000)
          Interest Expense2,902,00016,945,00015,768,000
          Income Before Tax(6,253,000)(4,947,000)(16,931,000)
          Income Tax Expense37,162,000(2,785,000)(5,878,000)
          Minority Interest(406,000) -   595,000
          Net Income From Continuing Ops(43,297,000)(1,978,000)(10,458,000)

          Whoa there. 37,000,000,000 BILLION in "Income Tax Expense" in 2007 for a company that's LOSING MONEY?

          Am I missing something here? Does anyone have any other insights as to what the $5 Billion/Month figure really means?

          I really don't want to see GM go under. I don't doubt that GM has big problems, but the numbers that I'm seeing just can't be the real story. They just can't be... can they?

          Be the change that you wish to see in the White House.

          by Nowhere Man on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:44:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  On "magical thinking versus ideological thinking" (0+ / 0-)

          Take a big dose of this, and don't call me in the morning:

          It is impossible to overestimate the human capacity for denial.

        •  The real short term problem is the credit crunch. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Yes, the big three needs to change their model lineup, but they wouldn't be in such dire straits if car loans and leases weren't becoming a major problem. Normally the automakers solve this problem by lending the money themselves, then bundling the loans off into the credit market. Not now. We don't need to bridge them for 10 years, probably more like 5-8 months.

          All that is required for evil to flourish is for good people to stand by and do nothing.

          by davewill on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:45:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Is it 5 billion/month in cash? (0+ / 0-)

          I can't get at the GM financials for the most recent quarter, but for the quarter ending June 2008.  The net loss was $15 billion whihc would match your $5 billion number, but cash flow out was only 2 billion.  So, that is more like $700 million per month.

          Assuming cost reductions are working that is hopefully going down faster than income.

        •  What would it cost to build a labor movement ? (0+ / 0-)

          What do you think the cost has been to build a labor movement in the US and to defend it---in money and lives?

          Of course the Heritage Foundation and the remnants of the Rovian world want to destroy all they can on the way out and organized labor has always been at the top of the target list.

          If you have any doubts just watch Fox and see what the talking points are and who the talking heads are and where they are from!  They are from Right to Work states and the likes of the Heritage Foundation.

          Regardless of who is running the Big Three, saving the UAW is worth way more to us all, and particularly anyone who believes in a progressive, decent country, that what it cost to bail out Wall Street!

      •  Michigan could become a ghost state (11+ / 0-)

        if we don't bail out the auto industry. We could bail them out with 2 conditions. Make the cars here. And make not a single car that gets less than 40mph.
        It would be great for the auto industry and great for Americans.
        Also, these aren't just millions of "jobs"-they are the means for feeding families, buying goods, paying of college. A loss of jobs on that magnitude would have a serious domino effect.

        "How can I tell you everything that is in my heart. Impossible to begin. Enough. No. Begin." Maira Kalman from The Principles of Uncertainty

        by orphanpower on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:46:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wave your wand... (0+ / 0-)

          And if you can discover a way to make a gasoline powered midsized sedan get 40MPG, when not even the Ford, GM or Toyota midsize hybrids can currently do that... They'd love to hire you.

          There are physical limits on how little power you can use to drive a car. These cars way two tons. Switching from steel to aluminum would dramatically up the costs without providing significant weight reduction. You'd have to start ripping out airbags, air conditioners, radios, noise insulation, and a whole host of other things to get the cars light enough to make 40mpg on the freeway.

          With diesel it could be done. Anything short of that? I'm skeptical

      •  I love this diarist !! (8+ / 0-)

        This is exactly what many of us have been saying for not just this past week, but for many years on here. The Rethugs are trying to destroy whatever is left of organized labor in this country. They want to see pain in these blue union states like MI, WI, OH, and most recently IN who depend heavily on the industry. Asshats like Shebly and Corker think destroying the domestic auto industry up here will help prop themselves up for more foreign auto locating in the south with cheaper unorganized labor.

        Plus, the diarist makes very good points of Rethugs trying their best destroy the economy and auto industry on the Democrats watch.

        Yeah, we already know the missteps both the Detroit 3 and the UAW has made over the years and criticism is rightfully justified. But this is about the future of not only the auto industry, but organized labor, manufacturing, and the middle class. The rethugs would love nothing more than to change the shape of our class structure from an egg (large middle class, small rich and poor classes) to an hourglass (no middle, large upper and a shit load of welfare Wal-Mart class)

      •  Without the water and a whole lot bigger. nt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, MichiganGirl

        I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. - President Elect Barack Obama

        by ThirstyGator on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:05:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I was telling my son last night (7+ / 0-)

        about the media/congressional outrage "du jour" yesterday with the "Detroit Three" wasting money and flying to D.C. on separate corporate jets.  He is a recent FSU graduate with degrees in Finance and Management and he unequivocally told me that their contracts explicitly state their means of travel and putting them anywhere near flying together would be a shareholder nightmare.  Why did our congressional critters and media creat a "fake" outrage?  Maybe, they should have asked these guys an honest question, like how much of a pay cut they were willing to take along with their "top management" and why they deserve to keep their jobs?  (since the congress made it about them directly and not what their companies are achieving)                                                                                                                                                  I watched Michael Moore on Larry King last night and he has it right. (the management needs an overhaul and the companies must be saved)  We must of grown up drinking the same water as I grew up 15 miles west of Flint, Michigan.  (many crop farmers, Buick/GM/AC sparkworkers/electrical union and affiliated employees)

        Obama/Biden '08 "to represent all Americans"

        by mjd in florida on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:27:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I ran into something that made me sad for our (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jds1978, MichiganGirl, soundchaser

          country yesterday.  I was straightening up a bottom cabinet in my kitchen and pulled out the  electric "pizzelle iron" original, old box from my Pittsburgh Italian mother-in-law and the manufacturing company was from a suburb of Pittsburgh. (I normally only make those Italian waffle-type cookies at Christmas time)  I started thinking about how many manufacturers of items were local in my mid-Michigan area too while I was growing up.  It's really sad!

          Obama/Biden '08 "to represent all Americans"

          by mjd in florida on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:35:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I agree we have to bail out the big 3 (0+ / 0-)

        Selfishly, because I work for a 3rd party supplier for the auto industry and GM is out single largest customer. However, an associate from one of our other customers (non-US card company) says just about the same thing about GM as you do about the Rethugs. "what's GM doing. OK, let's do the opposite."

    •  Count me in... (43+ / 0-)

      I’ve been skeptical about the bail out, but reached conclusions similar to your own several days ago. I think of all the jobs that would be lost and just don't see how we can refuse to help. Obviously, we have to place conditions etched in stone on any bailout, it can’t be like the AIG fiasco, but I don’t think we can do nothing. I’m not eager, but I’m onboard.

      The bloodlust the Repubs feel for the unions practically emanates off my TV screen every time they speak about the proposed auto bailout. They would love to use this as a cudgel to beat the unions – all unions – to death with, if they could.

      As our dear leader would say, "Fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again!"

      I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard! ~ William Lloyd Garrison

      by AuroraDawn on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:12:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  i'm in; good catch! EVERYONE REC THIS UP! NOW! (57+ / 0-)

      Wow, they couldn't steal this election so they set up to trash an entire industry in order to be in the running for the next one.

      Evil f---ers.

      Anyone who was consciously planning on that strategy should be lined up against the wall and have their mug-shots taken and run on the front pages.

      These f---ers are deliberately doing more harm to America than if they were working for a foreign enemy.  

      F---ing traitors.

      OK so here are a couple of things to put in the bailout bill:

      Miles-per-gallon meters on ALL new automobiles.   This is an inexpensive upgrade, it's well-known technology, and it's known to work: people who have them (whether they're green or not) tend to change their driving habits in response to realtime feedback about their mileage.   Not only that but it's also a safety thing because people slow down on the freeways and don't drive like meth-addled jackrabbits on local roads.  

      EQUITY in the form of common stock with voting power.   Gee, that means that we all own a couple of automakers now, doesn't it?

      Obviously: efficiency.   If GM wants an instant boost, all they have to do is bring back the old 1980s / 90s   Chevy Geo Metro, 3 cylinder (I tested this one and got 65 miles per gallon in freeway driving, at 70 miles per hour with the AC on.)  Those cars are well known for their low initial cost and their fuel efficiency.  Bring them back exactly as they were: no change to "aggressive styling" (blech) and bigger motors, just a simple efficient straightforward car.  Except this time, build them in the USA, rather than overseas as it was the last time.  People will pay more for American made high-efficiency cars, guaranteed.  

      Beyond that, the usual comments about hybrids, plug-ins, and EVs also apply here.  

      Batteries:   Strictly speaking not part of the bailout, but will help the automakers get EVs and hybrids and PHEVs on the road:  Obama needs to declare an emergency the day he takes office and tell Cobasys (subsidiary of Chevron and owner of the NiMH battery patents) that they have exactly 90 days to negotiate terms with automakers for large-format batteries for hybrids and EVs.  OR ELSE he will use the national security patent provisions to sieze their patents.  

      If you don't know, Cobasys has refused to allow the production of anything larger than D-cell batteries, which means no NiMH batteries for cars.  This is Chevron sticking a stick up America's collective butt.  Toyota & Panasonic were all set to go with these batteries in hybrids, when Cobasys bought up the patents and cancelled the deal.  Bottom line is: if Cobasys won't play nice, they lose their f---ing patents and to hell with them.

      Then the US government can license the technology to Panasonic and other major battery producers, who can compete freely for contracts with the automakers.  

      •  one more thing.... (24+ / 0-)

        REPLACE the top two layers of management with the exception of those who really did try to fix this crap and build efficient vehicles; and enact strict compensation caps on their replacements.  

      •  thanks for putting forward some specific (9+ / 0-)

        suggestion G2geek.  I lot of folks here seem to imagine that if we just throw $25 billion dollars at them we've solved the problem, when this will only buy us a few months.

        Miles per gallen meters

        on all new autos is a great idea.  Actually, I think they can be retrofitted on old cars too, and with modifications to driving habits, skillful drivers can apparrently improve their mph by 25% or more.  Problem here, that takes the average GM car from 20 to 25 mph and the average Japenese car from 30 37 or even 40 to 50.  Not going to solve the disasterous competitive disadvantage American auto-producers have fallen behind on in the last 5 decades.

        Equity and US siezing the common stock:

         I'm with you 100%.  I think GM's total market value now is about $25 to 30 billion, and if we give them this much or more we should take this all first, and then start taking the bonds too after than.  But this will only cover 5 months of their losing cash flow - what then.

        Geo Metro great mph I believe it is a liscenced copy of the Toyota Corolla which Toyota has improved substantially.  GM lost money on all their small cars, and couldn't get consumers to buy them.  Maybe if we put a several dollar a gallon tax on gas, and erect really severe trade tariffs on foreign made vehicles we could force more folks to buy these.  

        Also, several Korean automakers can make a similar vehicle now even substantially cheaper than the Japanese.  Like 60% of the cost.  So the tarrifs would have to be like 50% or more.  

        Do you favor this approach?  A trade war with the rest of the world could backfire, and was one of the factors contributing to the great depression of the 1930s (I think it may have been called the Smoot Harley Act or something like that)  We could lose a lot more in other industries and be talking about 10 million job loss.  But I'm open minded.  I'm just urging us to be anlystical, and careful about it.


         Improving battery efficiency and cost is a top priority for numerous industries and many firms and universities have this as their top priority.  MIT is apparently close to a substantial breakthrough.  But what has this to do with the big three auto producers.  The Japanese producer have also gain a significant cycle time advantage over Detroit, so they will likely be in the market with any new battery innovations several years sooner.

        I worked as a strategic consultant for 2 of the big 3 on trying to get the Concept, Design, Engineering, Tooling, Production etc life cycle down from almost a decade to half that.  

        I supppose with a really heroic emergency type effort it's conceivable that Detroit could get something new into production in four or five years - heck lets say three.  

        For GM at the current rate of losses of $60 billion a year that would be $180 billion.

        But their rate of losses is likely to increase once folks realize how precarious their situation is.  And once we get into a more serious downturn.

        I think sales were off 46% last month?  

        Sorry, my intent is not to discourage folks but interject a request for serious thinking and creativity.  

        Oh, yes, the top two layers of management should be replaced.  The whole management system at one of the big three was the worst of any of the approximately 100 Fortune 500 companies I had as clients previously.  

        But whose going to replace them, and how.  A change this large could take years.

        We might do better to auction of pieces of the system to intact management teams who think they could make segments profitable.

        For example, The Saturn division was one of the big success stories.  And Hummer could be sold.  As could GMAC which was their most profitable business last time I worked with them.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:17:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Quit with the "...current rate of losses..." crap (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stiela, jds1978

          Every argument you've made, HoundDog, falls back to GM losing $5B / month. Can we PRESUME that SOMETHING might possibly be done to stem that flow or are we to presume as you do that while they are "retooling" or whatever in the next few years they will continue on their merry way doing exactly what they've been doing for the past few years?

          C'mon... that's simply not going to happen.

        •  The Geo Metro (0+ / 0-)

          is a Suzuki Swift/Cultus built under license. GM did also license the Toyota Corolla as the Geo Prism.

          I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different. -- Kurt Vonnegut

          by sabishi on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:34:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  GM total market value: under $4 billion. (0+ / 0-)

          Total market value of the Big 3: under $7 billion.

          That was as of about a week ago. Certainly less today.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:16:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  GM can't find a buyer for Hummer. (0+ / 0-)

          They're already trying to sell it. No takers.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:26:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I think the basic research and leadership (0+ / 0-)

        in enabling technologies is critical and key to turning this industry around.  It has both current and long-term viability benefits.  It fits within our newfound green direction.  What does Nike say (after the I can produce stuff cheaper offshore bit, of course)?

        Use a public/private technology initiative to bring technology leadership back home.  Everyone else in the world does it.

        IIRC, this was proposed a while back but the Rs once again killed a good thing using the "industrial policy" bugaboo.

        "You may already be a wiener!" Anonymous

        by Terra Mystica on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:39:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  should be sending this to congress (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PsychoSavannah, addisnana

        these are good ideas. Might not hurt to send these ideas to the automakers as well.

      •  Batteries, batteries, batteries. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, addisnana

        Time to pick a promising technology (or three), and get after it. National emergency Manhattan project kind of deal. A modestly decent advance in battery price and performance could really put the oil companies in a world of shit. And foster a new series of cars (like the EV-1) that are clean, almost maintenance-free, economical and reliable. No matter which way you look going forward to green, batteries are going to be a huge help.

        I'd like to see automakers develop vehicles with an eye to suit specific ends, rather than general-purpose vehicles styled to appeal to niche customers. What do you most generally need a car for? The person who drives 20 miles a day at a maximum of 40-mph could use and benefit from a vastly different, lighter vehicle and drive train than the person driving 400 miles per day at 75-mph. The potential for savings (and convenience, parking, maintenance, etc.) in highly urban markets would be huge. It's time to tune designs more carefully to their purposes, especially urban purposes. Where most of the people live. Buy the very small cheap electric car that you need generally, and rent the bigger gas car that you need occasionally.

        •  one problem with fuel efficiency (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxado, golconda2

          and, I've been told here, one of the reasons my old CRX is no longer manufactured, are safety regulations.

          Cars now are heavier, in part because they have to be safe enough to survive an accident with a Hummer.

          So let me revive here a comment I made elsewhere, by way of a simple proposal:

          Drop the speed limit back to 55 mph, then issue special license plates to cars which meet or exceed a target mpg (say, 40 mpg to start) and give them the left lane to drive 70.

          That cuts our fuel consumption some by dropping the speed limit, and it creates an incentive to get the big, heavy, gas guzzlers off the road. (The truckers will hate it, but, uh...they're part of the problem. I'll have to ask my trucker friend, but I suspect in the main they'd benefit from lower speed limits, and would simply have to recalibrate their delivery times. But I've probably oversimplified.)

          "If kerosene works/Why not gasoline?" -- The Bottle Rockets

          by Shocko from Seattle on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:26:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wrong premise, too complex, won't work. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Safety is a MINOR reason cars are heavier now. The main reason is that people want cars that are quieter, faster, roomier, and have more luxury features.

            I think it would be too hard for law enforcement to sort out cars that belong in the left lane from those that don't. Though I must admit that here in metro Atlanta we have some HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes on our interstates that are set aside for cars with at least 2 people, or motorcycles, or hybrids, so perhaps it could work.

            The bigger problem is that people just won't drive 55. The "double nickel" was a national laughingstock when it was finally repealed. Not only did it not accomplish its goal, it bred contempt for government and law generally. It put ordinary, respectable citizens on the side of criminals. Like Prohibition, or current drug laws, or sodomy laws until Lawrence v. Texas. Government just shouldn't make laws it can't or won't enforce.

            The CRX was a GREAT car, by the way.

            "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

            by HeyMikey on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:13:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Cleaner Diesel (0+ / 0-)

        Ford has the ECOnetic that gets, reportedly, 65 mpg using diesel fuel but is not sold here because of the high cost of the fuel. The article states that it is 40¢ - $1 tax. I should think that re-thinking the tax on diesel might be important for the economic future of our auto companies.

        Unless someone can tell me significant negatives I'd say to get rid of this extra diesel tax and let's explore clean diesel.

        I am at a loss as to why the government doesn't take an active role in loaning funds, or perhaps buying stake in each company so as to help the auto companies and the state of Michigan reach the future.

        Do what is needed to keep these companies going and guide them to profitability or, I think, it will be a nationwide catostrophy. With ownership the government can make demands about executive compensation. With viable nationwide health care helping their legacy costs.

        I think I may be becoming a socialist

        I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. Kurt Vonnegut

        by klimtone on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:31:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Diesel differences. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          2 big reasons Europe has more diesels than America:

          1. European regulations allow higher particulate emissions. Current American regs are roughly equivalent to "Euro 4" regs, scheduled to be phased in by 2014, I believe. Those current high-mileage Euro diesels would not pass current American emissions standards.
          1. European governments offer tax incentives to diesel buyers.

          America has in the last approx. 2 years phased in low-sulfur diesel fuel nationwide. Cleaner diesels that take advantage of it to meet current US emissions regs are starting to hit the US market. I expect we will see more of them in the next few years.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:22:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry... doesn't look precisely accurate... (0+ / 0-)

        If you don't know, Cobasys has refused to allow the production of anything larger than D-cell batteries, which means no NiMH batteries for cars.  This is Chevron sticking a stick up America's collective butt.  Toyota & Panasonic were all set to go with these batteries in hybrids, when Cobasys bought up the patents and cancelled the deal.  Bottom line is: if Cobasys won't play nice, they lose their f---ing patents and to hell with them.

        According to their own website, Cobasys is delivering NiMH's right now for electric vehicles AND the new plug-ins as well.

      •  Your magic pony bailout is not on the table (0+ / 0-)

        The choices are bail out the Detroit 3 exactly as they are or not, at least until the start of the Obama administration.

        "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

        by theran on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:29:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Dont these catch fire (0+ / 0-)

        When they exceed a certain amount of weight?

        Remember the laptop computer recalls.

        Battery technology is laden with problems and very smart peole are working hard to find answers.

        Sometimes it isn't a conspiracy, sometimes it is.


        "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

        by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:03:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Equity with voting power? (0+ / 0-)

        Who gets to decide how the USG votes?

    •  Yes, it's the last labor bastion (18+ / 0-)

      and much as I hate the big 3 for their stubborn refusal to seek out green alternatives, if we support unions and the idea of unions, we need to support this temporary bailout loan.

      As Barney Frank explained on NPR yesterday, at first not very coherently but by the end very strongly and passionately, this is a progressive policy.

      With less than 13 per cent of the US workforce unionized, I think it would be a mistake for us to ignore the stated wishes of one of the more successful unions in US history.

      •  Barney Frank's endorsement is critical. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jds1978, political junquie

        I am not sure if I'm for it or against it. But I'm inclined to trust Barney Frank, perhaps the smartest person in Congress.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:43:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  If we lose the big three and their unions, (9+ / 0-)

        it will send waves (not ripples, but tidal waves) out through the rest of organized labor. I belong to two United Auto Workers locals and I've never been inside a car plant in my life.

        The auto workers are THE remaining body of union workers in the United States and the auto unions sponsor locals across a wide variety of other, seemingly unrelated fields (like writing/publishing and academics, even).

        The labor movement will, if the auto giants collapse, effectively end within the United States.

        -9.63, 0.00
        Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from idiotic American minds.

        by nobody at all on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:48:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a fear (0+ / 0-)

          But I think the labor movement has been becoming more flexible for a while.  I'm in the UAW too, and, really all the national can really do for us (as grad students and state employees) is to provide the overall structure for being unionized and defend us against certain kinds of potential lawsuits.  (We are barred from striking or really any job actions, so no help there.)

          This is not an argument for or against a Detroit 3 bailout, but labor needs to go where the economy is.  (And is has been for a while.)

          "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

          by theran on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:03:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm also in a Grad Student UAW Local (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            And the International gives us a bit more. First, we can strike, so they would help out on strike funds (what state are you in, in regards to no-strike laws?) Second, our region kicks in to help our political program. And third, the International helps us with organizing new sectors (like post-docs).

            •  Really? Organizing? (0+ / 0-)

              We had that in our local's budget when I was on the steering committee.  Maybe it's changed in the last few years.  It would be nice if it had.

              "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

              by theran on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:51:49 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Question (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Isn't there a way to separate support of the workers from support of the work?  I would love to see the Big 3 disappear to be replaced by a green manufacturing economy in which ex-auto workers are busy making buses, trains, trolleys, hi-efficiency appliances, etc.  Their rights could be protected either by the continued UAW or by the govt directly (if it is the one providing the start-up costs).  

          I don't think we need to keep going down an environmentally unsustainable and fiscally dubious road for the workers' sake, whose skills can be of huge use in a green economy.

    •  25 billion? pocket change these days, no? (8+ / 0-)

      seriously: i am with you.

      i am adamantly against the bail out.

      but this i support: it is targeted. measureable. and it's an opportunity to get the auto industry to retool for the future: no emissions. small cars but innovative space design. engines for mass transit... why not expand? this collapse can be good when we use it to rebuild ... rethink... re structure for relevance and sustainability.

      and think about it: 25 million is cheap, these days. i didn't even flinch when i saw that number.

      how's that for absurdity?

      "Well we don't rent pigs and I figure it's better to say it right out front because a man that does like to rent pigs is... he's hard to stop" Gus McCrae

      by pfiore8 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:52:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree but (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PsychoSavannah, addisnana

        You have to prioritize...

        If a person comes in to the E.R. with internal bleeding and a severed limb, while re-attaching the limb is important, if you don't get the internal bleeding stopped first, the person will die.

        The only way to help the companies is to stop the bleeding first, then hope you can re-attach the limb once you have the bleeding under control.

        Bottom line is, people are not spending money.  The best thing Government can do is try to restore confidence in the U.S. - all the naysaying that goes on has zero positive impact.  

        There is no short term solution - only short term fixes - but if you don't fix things while you work on the ultimate solution, there won't be anything left.

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by ctexrep on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:24:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There are 2 things that can be done (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          xaxado, pfiore8, ctexrep, addisnana

          right now, today, that will help the consumer have more money:

          1.  allow credit card interest to be deducted on taxes again.
          1.  cap credit card interest rates at 10%, with 15% maximum default rate.  The way the banks are losing money and credit card defaults are on the rise, I would think they'd be happy to get some money, rather than no money.  This gets the consumer who is stuck in the cycle of default rates of 32% or more who can not make their minimum payment and are adding an addittional $39 to their balance every month for not paying the minimum out of that cycle.  That cycle is vicious and should be outlawed.  Once consumers get out from under that impossible payment every month, there is a little more change in their pocket to spend in the economy.

          Those are just 2 real ways to help "Main Street".

          None of it will not fix the automakers problems now,  because no one is going to take on $20-50K in debt for a new car right now.  Some can't get the loan and those that can, are waiting to see what happens both in the economy and with the technology. Who's going to buy a Chevy that gets 20 mpg when all the promises are of a car that gets 40 or doesn't use gas at all?  We've decided that unless a hybrid or outright electric vehicle comes out that is at or below $20K, we will not buy a new car again - ever.  Used is fine.

          •  You may be correct (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            But there should be a limit on the amount to be deducted - while we want to encourage spending, Americans are already saddled with huge credit card debt - I thinkit was along the lines of $11,000 per family - ouch!

            Interest rates should be capped and total amount of extended credit limits should be cumulative, not exclusive to each card - this would require regulation that forced banks to share this info with each other.  It's obvious that banks and too many people cannot police themselves so I think the regulation is needed to ensure solvency.

            I just think that people are re-assessing life and rampant consumerism and pinching themselves and asking, "WTF am I doing?"

            Credit, while it has driven the economy, has also enabled people to purchase things they truly cannot afford - I just think as a society, we may have reached the tipping point.

            The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

            by ctexrep on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:47:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  heh: cheap goods are the most expensive goods (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              you can buy.

              i see nothing wrong with producers of quality (i mean quality) goods making them more expensive. if we spend more on a television, then we expect it to last longer. for example. or computers. the same. it's all about the scale of the economy. it is obvious, to me at least, that ever-expanding consumerism is a death trap.

              it's the cheap goods killing us. the availability. just take the fucking cell phones, for one. i heard this indian man talk about how, 20 years ago, there were maybe 20 million phones in his country (pop then maybe 600 mil?). today? with over 1 billion potential consumers, they go through 8 MILLION CELL PHONES PER MONTH. how many people will that garbage displace? i wonder what happens to the toxic stuff and the stuff that doesn't degrade.

              we have lost sight of one very important thing: VALUE for our money. we think amount of goods equals value. it just doesn't.

              and another reason we're here? because there was no value placed on quality products... no pride, just greed. so all profits got sucked up by the top 1 or 2 or 3% of management.

              profits didn't fuel R&D or infrastructure upgrades. it lined pockets. and surprise: pipelines went empty. and the vampires were addicted. they couldn't stop taking the money.

              the rank and file lost wage increases, benefits, and while being asked to work harder.

              and democrats? republicans? we keep thinking there's some big difference. we didn't get here on republicans alone. just remember that.

              cause the biggest mistake going forward is to think the dems have our backs covered.

              "Well we don't rent pigs and I figure it's better to say it right out front because a man that does like to rent pigs is... he's hard to stop" Gus McCrae

              by pfiore8 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:18:05 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Agree (0+ / 0-)

                But to add to your comment, we may need protection from ourselves.

                I'll make to points:

                Go to the grocery store - if you shop the perimeter, you're buying "real food" - fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, dairy.  The middle of the store is processed "food stuff".  Bags of chips, boxes of cookies - I saw the other day some pancake wix in a plastic jug that you added water to a line, shook it, poured the batter out and then threw the whole thing out - unhealthy and tons of waste - that's what the center of the store is - but that's where most people shop and eat.  Convenience and packaging - no one markets the perimeter - when was the last time you saw an add for vegetables that weren't prepared and frozen?

                Second point - everyones Grandmother; mother has an old cast iron frying pan - they still make those pans but no one really buys them - they are handed down becasue they last forever - this is why most products today have planned obsolescence.  Almost every product we buy can be made better - and in the case of the cast iron pan, less expensive and have it last a long, long time - but companies would go out of business, so they sell you crap so they can sell the same crap to you over and over.

                Price does not always equate to quality either - just look in a department store at womes facial creams - one of my friends worked for Ponds - he said that the only difference between Ponds Cold Cream, which was the base for most high end creams, and some Deep Hydrated Anti-aging Night Aplication lotion was a vitamin that added ~ $0.10 to the cost of the product - yet the "high end" cream is sold for $60 for 1.5 oz and Ponds is about $8.99 for 16 oz.  They rest is B.S., advertising and packaging.


                The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

                by ctexrep on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:35:09 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  I'm in but... (10+ / 0-)

      ...can we please stop with the juvenile misspellings of "Republican"???  It's starting to look like The Free Republic around here.

      We're better than that.  We can make our arguments without acting like 8 year olds and calling our opponents childish names.

    •  I'm with ya (9+ / 0-)

      I was already for the loan to the auto industry.  It's not just the big three that would fail, but all their suppliers, the restaurants and shops near their assembly plants and so on.  Yes, there have to be serious strings attached, but it's too big a part of our economy as you rightly point out.

      Paul Krugman was on Rachel Maddow last night and is for the loan as well.

      Tipped and rec'd.

      Yes. We. Did! (I have Obama/Biden stickers, see profile for email addy)

      by BlueInRedCincy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:54:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I too am with you all the way. (4+ / 0-)

      This is one of the few industries left in the US where we actually produce something.  If they fail it will be catastrophic...for real.

    •  only one problem with this assumption (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lotlizard, Ellinorianne, wvmom, addisnana

      The GOP, and the media pundits who are all clamoring for Obama and the Congress to let the auto industry die will be damning us and running against the Democratic Party as the party that 'Let Michigan Die' or 'Let Detroit Die' for a generation if the auto industry is allowed to die.

      and its the same erroneous assumption that the GOP always make and that for the last TWO election cycles has NOT worked:

      They assume the people in hose states are STUPID. They are not as was proven a mere 15 days ago. If the GOP actually believes that people in MI,OH,IL, WI, MN and IN are stupid enough to believe that, they have a shock coming for them. On every news channel (including the networks) the reports are that its the GOP that is obstructing this bailout, not democrats. On every pundit show its a GOP person blaming unions and talking about free markets and business failings. The unions themselves are disseminating information to their memnber about the GOP blocking efforts so....if the GOP thinks this is a winning strategy against Democrats, they are more stupid than even I suspected. Its a guaranteed way to lose that region for at least two generations. Those people do NOT have short memories.

      regarding the bridge loan I want to see some BUSINESS PLAN for the CEOs. My problem with it is that 25B will not last them long enough to reorganize into solvency so we'll be asked to provide more when that runs ot. I want to see a solid business plan that shows how they will use the 25 Billion to take the steps necessary to make the business solvent. If 25 Billion isnt enough to cover that, i want to know what the bottom line figure is and how long they project that it will take before they can begin earning some money again. I own a small business. If I wanted to get a business loan I would at least need to provide that information to the bank to be considered for a loan. I feel they could at least provide the same information. Without that BASIC information that they would need to get a business loan from ANY FREAKING BANK, i'm not happy with it.

      •  The GM CEO couldn't answer the (4+ / 0-)

        question "how much will it take" yesterday during the hearings.  He hemmed and hawed and the congresscritter pressed him and I think he said "hundreds of billions of dollars", or something along those lines.

      •  Tone deaf Repubs (6+ / 0-)

        It's high time to help out the upper midwest that has taken such a beating from nearly three decades of sell outs from the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich-Bush era.  The Republicans have taken a scorched earth policy to America's heartland, pushing free trade well beyond the point when it had become clear that was a sucker's bet for blue and white collar workers alike.  When you listen to the utter shite coming out of the GOP, it's clear that they still don't get it.  See native son Willard 'Mittens' Romney smartly advocating reforms for the auto industry while ignoring the immediate emergency facing millions of people RIGHT NOW:
        Sure we need to reform management, but as usual he shows the Repub need to blame the victims for the crisis they created while proposing no solutions (It's convenient as many here have pointed out that there's lots of talk about the cost of benefits per car, but no acknowledgement of the need to implement universal health care to put us on an equal playing field with our competitors.)

        The good news is that people aren't buying that at all and it's because we understand what's at stake.  I grew up in SE MI in the late 1970s and 80s and I cannot honestly believe we're facing a mortal crisis now in the year 2008.  MI in particular managed some recovery in the boom years of the 90s but it's been grim across the state for at least the last 3-4 years.

        As progressives,  it is also important to note that these are our people.  In spite of the strong religious bent of Michiganders and a deep culture of gun ownership, ORV and snow machine racing, my beloved home state has consistently supported a real progressive Governor in Jennifer Granholm, sent two Dem senators to DC, increased its strength in the House, and given the middle finger to Bush twice and ran McCain/Palin out of the state on a rail in October!  

        It's not going to be cheap, fast or easy, but we owe it to the people of this state and region for making the right choices when it was anything but easy.  I'd also stress that Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA album will be easy listening compared to the heartbreak and despair that's already unfolding in this state.   Collapse of the auto industry would quite simply turn the Midwest into our generation's Great Dust Bowl.

        •  thanks for your insight (0+ / 0-)

          i agree we need to provide assistance to the Big 3, mostly because as your say "these are our people". I recognize that these are people not numbers.

          What concerns me is that there must be some plan on the part of management to make the companies solvent again. There needs to be a short term plan and a long term plan.

          I think long term is not really the problem for the BIG 3. They will build more fuel efficient cars, electric cars etc. Our government will help with a push toward a different health care system which will help them tremendously as would new trade policies and workplace standards for cars being imported. But these are all two to four years away.

          The question is what do we do in the meantime? The CEOs are asking for 25 Billion which is not sufficient to bridge the gap between NOW and two to four years from now. I dont even think its sufficient to last more than 6 months, which presents the problem: HOW is the money helping and wont we have to do this all again in another 6 months?

          I think the CEOs need to start thinking creatively about what they can do about this. 25 Billion is not adequate to "save" the industry until health care is reformed and we have electric charging stations everywhere. So what is the 25 Billion FOR?  

          I dont have the answers. This is hard and tough. But the CEOS who are making plenty of money (and who somehow MISSED the signs that this was coming) should do their jobs and start thinking about how to save their companies with just 25 Billion.

          •  CEOs suck (0+ / 0-)

            Sad to say, but I think the $25 billion is life support and right now it's an immediate need.  It reminds me of taking my beloved dog to the vet once when he came down with serious GI problem.  They immediately needed to get him stabilized on IVs, meds, and keep him in observation.  The medical charges were considerable and I remember the Doc telling me that there was no clear prognosis beyond the next twelve hours.  I paid the money because there was no other choice - I wasn't going to watch my dog die for $1000 or some such amount of money even though I didn't really have that kind of cash sitting around.  IN the end he pulled through after a long recovery, with corrections in diet, meds, and lots of TLC.  

            That's where we're at with the Big 3, in my opinion.  They're near death and need emergency care NOW so we can even begin to assess treatment options when the real Dr. Obama gets in the OR.  The CEO's are a big part of the problem so I'm not counting on them to solve this problem on their own.  In an ideal world they would all get shaken down for the money they burned through on gas-guzzling SUVs.  Unfortunately those bastards seem immune from any real consequences of their past neglectful actions.  Hopefully smarter people than me in the new administration will lay out the new directions for the American auto, but that won't be an option in another three months if we don't do something now.

            Hey, I know let's give every family in the country a new car.  It would be an increadible deal; for only $80/ per person, we're all getting new rides!

    •  Here is some more (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, jds1978

      To add to your thoughts, I've written three diaries on this issue in the last week.
      Here: The right way to bailout
      Here: why workers shouldn't be punished.
      Here: How the media is misreporting the story.

    •  I'm with you (6+ / 0-)

      Interestingly enough, I sort of got with you after reading this.  

      Myth No. 1

      Nobody buys their vehicles.


      General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC sold 8.5 million vehicles in the United States last year and millions more around the world. GM outsold Toyota by about 1.2 million vehicles in the United States last year and holds a U.S. lead over Toyota of about 560,000 so far this year. Globally, GM in 2007 remained the world's largest automaker, selling 9,369,524 vehicles worldwide -- about 3,000 more than Toyota.

      Ford outsold Honda by about 850,000 and Nissan by more than 1.3 million vehicles in the United States last year.

      Chrysler sold more vehicles here than Nissan and Hyundai combined in 2007 and so far this year.

    •  Thanks for seeing the light...Inky (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, jds1978, shayes
    •  That is the crux (7+ / 0-)

      There would be a cascade of situations occurring.

      Those so called "legacy expenses" are the focal point.

      What the Republicans want is to force another crisis.

      When it boils down to the bare issues, what becomes clear is that both Health Insurance and Wall Street, as industries, not unions, have nearly killed our Auto Industry.

      All of the extra expense to the Auto manufacturers does not exist in other nations such as Japan and Germany as healthcare and retirement are socialized.

      These are the elephants in the room that no one wishes to talk about.

      We are on the brink of losing our Auto industry because of American market based healthcare.

      Someone with an authoritative voice must speak this truth and soon.

      "A functioning Democracy must defy economic interests of the elites on behalf of citizens" Christopher Hedges Econ 3.50&Soc. 5.79

      by wmc418 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:23:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow, I was really against the bailout (6+ / 0-)

      until I read this diary. Guess I need to focus more on the overall war than individual battles. Thanks for writing this Inky.

      Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so our children can fly!

      by Kelly of PA on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:33:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  count me in (7+ / 0-)

      You stated a BIG part of the answer in the last paragraph. They want to destroy one of the last great unions in the country. The rethugs hate unions because it gives workers a voice.  As they have proven time and time again they will do anything and everything for political gain. Even if it cost 3 million jobs. This would also force people wanting and needing to work to work for a much lower wage when and if they find employment. They are always stating we don't need big government. That is unless it is them.

      True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness. Albert Einstein

      by desnyder on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:37:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Start hammering your Dem member of congress... (4+ / 0-)

      ...on this folks.

      We are talinmgh about hundreds of thousands of good Democrats and middle class families who are going to get the shaft BEFORE Christmas if nothing is done.

    •  If the Big Three fail, their pensions fail (7+ / 0-)

      and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) fails with it and the pensions of millions beyond the auto industry either fail or will be under enormous strain and the cost of pensions will skyrocket (thus no pension benefits for millions more).

      The single-employer program protects 34.0 million workers and retirees in 28,800 pension plans. The multiemployer program protects 9.9 million workers and retirees in 1,540 pension plans. Multiemployer plans are set up by collectively bargained agreements involving more than one unrelated employer, generally in one industry.

      The strain of guaranteeing the pensions of the failed Big Three would bankrupt PBGC and the pension system.

      What is PBGC?  Wikipedia:wiki: PBGC

    •  MASSIVE disinformation underway (12+ / 0-)

      You have finally caught on that this is yet another push of the Shock Doctrine, and that it's being propelled with massive amounts of disinfo.

      Look at Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who's against the bailout but is not as vocal as Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.); both have foreign automakers' plants in their state, but in McConnell's case, workers at Toyota actually earn MORE than their counterparts at Big Three plants in the same state.

      All the whining you hear about the unions costing so much is nothing more than hype to bust the unions altogether.  The UAW has restructured their pay scale and taken over control of retiree benefits to get them off the books of the Big Three as part of contract negotiations last September.

      But the other challenge right now is that the carmakers might have been okay and turned around, right up until gas prices spiked to $4.00 a gallon, and car sales plummeted dramatically.

      Just look at this chart and ask yourself how did gas spike like this?  Is it at all possible that a number of key investors forced this entire crisis in the American auto industry by speculating?

      Add the credit crisis -- people cannot get credit to buy cars, nor can the Big Three borrow money readily to limp along -- and you really begin to wonder what might be the real underlying problem.

      Now it doesn't help that the uppermost management of the Big Three are really stupid about public relations and don't realize that their industry is suffering for their inability to rehabilitate their American brands.  But is the crisis merely a PR problem, or a deliberate effort to kill off the biggest corporate-and-labor institution responsible for middle-class growth and prosperity since the last Great Depression?

    •  I'm still for the Bridge Loan (3+ / 0-)

      But I want changes in Executive Pay, Nardelli has already said he'd take a 1 year $1 salary, Mulally and Wagoner should at least agree to a sizeable reduction in pay.

      Also, Greener (GM has been doing amazing research in Greening cars, but we are a long way from being able to make fuel cells possible because of infrastructure issues, not manufacturing of the cars issues, nice, huh?).

      In addition, not to sound like a fan of George Voinovich, but he's really been out there trying to get Dems in the Senate and R's in his party to sign on to the bridge loan. I really hate Voinovich, but on this one, he's got Ohio's back, for once. It'd be nice if he were able to convince his colleagues on this one.

      The most important word in the language of the working class is `solidarity.'--Harry Bridges, longshore union leader

      by Bendygirl on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:25:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nardelli can afford to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        he got $123 million from Home Depot during his short tenure, while depressing it 10% and then bailed two years ago. He certainly doesn't need money - but money should be tied to performance of the company. No Golden Parachutes.

        "red hair and black leather, my favorite colour scheme" - Richard Thompson

        by blindcynic on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:28:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you very much (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, MichiganGirl

      I have been suspecting that.

    •  Sell GM's Corporate Jets (0+ / 0-)

      The fat-cats from GM, Ford, and Chrysler all came to DC in their multi-million dollar corporate jets!!

      They didn't even bother to "Jet-pool".

      So these fat jerks need to be trimmed down to nothing before they get any taxpayer funds to reward their decades of stupidity.

      And stop advertising the Chevy Traverse- bragging about the 24 mpg downhill with a following wind as though 24 mpg was anything to brag about- what idiots!

      •  Mullaly's been CEO of Ford for a couple (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        years. Why people get their gollies bashing the managers with such low information baffles me.
        What happens if a sports team docked their players salary for losing games. The good players would go play for other teams.

      •  the problem with this arguement is... (0+ / 0-)

        they each sell the jets lets say each one is worth 300k which it isn't but lets say it is. Thats not even a million dollars. When you make arguments like they need to get rid of their jets you are not focusing on the big picture.

        Was it stupid to fly down in the jets? Yes. Does it make them look bad? Yes but is this part of the reason they are failing as companies and should not be bailed out? NO...

        They need new business plans, and new model cars. A bailout should have some conditions on it that their business models will change not that they sell a Jet

      •  Again... don't let the facts get in your way... (0+ / 0-)

        And stop advertising the Chevy Traverse- bragging about the 24 mpg downhill with a following wind as though 24 mpg was anything to brag about- what idiots!

        The average for freeway fuel economy is between 19-29MPG (that's downhill with a breeze). 24MGP is simply the average result you would get as tested by the EPA.

    •  Whomever told you about the high pay (5+ / 0-)

      of GM workers forgot to mention the formula they used to come to those numbers. From a 2006 CNN article:

      "The top pay for a GM hourly employee is $27 an hour, but with benefits and future health care costs GM estimates that hour of work costs the company $73.73. The flat wage works out to about $56,000 a year before overtime, so those taking a $140,000 buyout would get about 2-1/2 years of pay in the lump sum."

      By that crazy way of figuring a salary EVERYONE EVERYWHERE with benefits and a retirement plan is a millionaire already, eh?

      The other talking point going around about Toyota only paying 200 dollars per employee for their health care? What they neglect to tell you is that in 2006 Toyota only had 250 retired employees to pay health care for... GM, Chrysler and Ford all have ongoing legacy costs for retired employees that far outnumber 250 retired employees. BTW... At the time that $200 cost was still higher than what Canadian auto companies had to pay for their employees health care. Though, Canadian workers do have to pay a bit towards their health care as well.

      While I originally wrote this in January of 2007, concerning the cost of health care to consumers and service provided, it is equally applicable to the savings for the auto industry. And that is not my opinion, that is the opinion of the successful auto industry management. The ones that aren't asking for a bailout. At the time I wrote this in 2007, each vehicle assembled in the United States cost GM $1,525 for health care; those made in Canada cost GM $197. Probably more savings now since this was written nearly two years ago... Read on

      Single payer universal health care would allow for savings across all industries and provide healthier, more productive workers. And, as per usual, the right wing takes some pretty numbers and distorts the heck out of them.

    •  I am not with you (5+ / 0-)

      This isn't about unions.

      We have an opportunity to do something different. GM and Ford have been shedding jobs for years. Giving them taxpayer subsidized loans doesn't change that. We produce too many cars, and GM and Ford in particular produce way too many cars people don't want. Bailouts don't change that. We need these workers building other things. A loan won't aid that transition.

      Wal-Mart is already the largest private employer in the country. Detroit is already ravaged by decades of neglect and decay. If this were the 1970s, perhaps government's role could have been rehabilitating the companies. But a generatin later, government's role needs to be helping workers (and capital) transition to more efficient production. That transition should of course include things like universal unemployment insurance and universal single payer health insurance, but the end result should be to move workers from GM and Ford to more efficient companies.

      All efficiency means is stuff we want to have, like hospitals and schools and mass transit and high speed passenger rail and sewers and bridges and and and. The last thing in the world we need is for government to tax productive folks to produce another 100,000 SUVs that nobody can afford anyway.

      If we're going to make $25 billion in loans, loan it to people pursuing education, loan it to local governments operating mass transit systems or repairing bridges and sewer systems, loan it to small businesses in infant industries building solar panels and wind turbines, loan it to hospitals modernizing some equipment, etc, etc.

    •  Started to think harder about this myself (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, jds1978, MichiganGirl

      after I saw Mitt Romney's op-ed in the NYTimes opposing a bailout.  Why would he come out so vocally against it?  What's in it for him, and his party?  You gotta think they're salivating at a chance to finally break the back of auto-industry organized labor, a mainstay of the Democratic party.

    •  Thanks, Inky. (5+ / 0-)

      As a man who works at a GM plant, it's been heartbreaking to see some of the people on this board who were so quick to say that my job wasn't worth saving and that it didn't matter to them if thousands of people like me were going to be able to pay their bills.  I know the majority supported the bailout, but I wondered why a small percentage could be so callous.

      Thanks for coming around.

      Barney Frank said it best yesterday: "There is apparently a cultural condition that's more ready to accept aid to a white-collar industry than the blue-collar industry, and that has to be confronted"

      This is my sig line. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

      by djtyg on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:26:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  At last. Someone is connecting the dots. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stiela, RunawayRose, Stomp 442, jds1978

      There's more. When GM fails, everyone loses their pension. The stock market crashes even more -- and people lose their retirement and whatever savings they have left. The cascade effect on jobs will be huge. More people will lose their homes. More banks will go under as a consequence. Cities and states will lose revenue from loss of property tax and sales tax revenue. Federal tax revenue will drop, leaving less wiggle room for funding health care and other progressive programs -- which is precisely what the Republicans want in addition to killing the unions.

      Thank you for this diary. Perhaps people will see what's really at stake here and stop screaming "let them die".

      "Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it." ML King

      by TheWesternSun on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:08:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Does that mean they must sell equities? (0+ / 0-)

        I'm curious, if the pension fund has a substantial holdings of stocks, real estate and other investment classes that aren't currently doing well, if the company goes bankrupt, must they liquidate their assets to pay debts?  Would that flood the markets with a large amount of equities/real estate, commodities, etc. that must sell in a timely fashion?
        How would that affect asset class values?


      this stinks, all of it.

      from my space station, i can see a handful of guys fucking the entire planet. don't the raped usually kick and scratch? they're just laying there, taking it.

      ...where will it tickle you?

      by GANJA on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:18:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I recommended (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      because I agree that letting the auto makers fail would be a mistake.  I don't think they should be given loans with no strings attached, but I do think they letting them fail would be a costly mistake that will have drastic negative impact now and well into the future.

      Two points; first, IF they are not given assistance and allowed to fail, the GOP can lie all they want and try to blame Obama and the Democrats but that's going to ring hollow considering that Obama will not have even been inaugurated by the time these decisions will need to be made. That means that if they fail, the actual failure occurred on George Bush's watch when he could have prevented it.

      My second point, for what it's worth, is to highlight one of my biggest pet peeves - which is the tainting an otherwise well-written piece with childish ad hominem epithets such as "Rethuglicans", "Reporklicans" or any epithet that ends with "tard".  You don't do your arguments any favors when you resort to that kind of language, it's offensive, it distracts, it diminishes the discourse and it impugns your own credibility.  It turns off people like me who otherwise agree with your sentiments and I'm sure that in some cases, it prevents you from being taken seriously.

      It's also not necessary, the points that you make in this diary stand up on their own, it diminishes rather than bolsters your arguments.  Your writing is not bad, with all due respect, I think it would be far better without the epithets.

      It was crime at the time but the laws, we changed 'em. -The New Pornographers

      by democracy inaction on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:42:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My Aunt is a retiree from GM (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stiela, RunawayRose, Ice Blue

      My aunt worked for GM for 30 years and retired with dignity and had her full health benefits and full retirement pension, now she may lose ALL of it if GM goes under. About 9 months ago, she lost half of her heath care benefits and as soon as she hit 65, they dumped her completely so that she could get medicare and it was because the company's financial problems and the economy. Now her her full pension may be lost and she is worried sick about her future. She is now talking about going back to work to earn a living if GM is not saved. It's not just about saving the company its about all those retirees who have worked for them for years. It's not fair to them and if they file bankruptcy or go under, the seniors/retirees will suffer.

    •  Great diary... (0+ / 0-)

      ...I too was not sure about the bailout and all I could think about was the millions of hard workers that would pay for the bad management, it just doesn't seem right to me.  America needs to do whatever it can to take care of these workers, in my opinion.  If we can bail out the wall street fuckers that put us into this mess than we can give 4% of that 700 billion to the working class men and women who really need it.  Thanks for the diary.

      "Do right because it is right without fear of punishment or hopes of reward"

      by cheftdp on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:21:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Where does it end though? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I mean right now it just feels like we're throwing money in an endless pit.

      Now I hear Airlines are angling for bailout money themselves.  and you know State and local governments are going to be hurting too.  Who's next?  Where does it end?

      There are going to be hard times for EVERYONE.  I'm not saying we shouldn't bail out the auto industry, I just want to understand what ALL we need to bailout before we begin.

      Make a decision about who gets money and who doesn't.

      You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

      by DawnG on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:49:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks, Inky99 (0+ / 0-)

      As usual I'm slow to recognize the politics involved. This was a really valuable diary.

      Thanks to LeftHandedMan also.

      Obama is a tool; and I mean that in the nicest way.

      by hoipolloi on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:53:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I thought this was already obvious to people (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Of course the GOP wants the UAW to collapse. Duh!
        Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana all just went blue for the first time in ages.

       But then this shouldn't be the reason to support a bailout. You should support it in order to save the middle class in this country.

      "The people have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want & the courage to take." - Emma Goldman

      by gjohnsit on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:35:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The two strongest arguments for the bailout: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      1.  The union wants it.
      1.  The Republicans don't.

      McCain: Running for Hoover's 21st term

      by Finck II on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 11:19:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm finally on board! (0+ / 0-)

      My 30 year anger at the US auto industry has blinded me to the realities/consequences if we allow it to fail. You and Michael Moore (Larry King last night) have caused me to do a 180.

      Currently watched CNN breaking news that house and senate are in bi-partisan agreement to do the 25 billion bailout demanding a 'viability' plan on the part of automakers

    •  Who's with you? Not me! (0+ / 0-)

      It's not just the unions that are dragging the Big 3 down. They made horrible business decisions. They are far from profitable, which means that they are unlikely to repay the loan that they'd get from Congress.

      Who's left holding the bag?  Us. The taxpayers.

      Bankruptcy could be the best thing for them. Airlines go thru it all the time and come out ok.  They'll survive too.

    •  A similar piece you should check out (0+ / 0-)

      I wrote it here...I hope you like it and can find a little more motivation from it too!


      The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die. -Teddy

      by AmericanLeader on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:10:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't buy this (9+ / 0-)

    Evil bastards who will gleefully destroy Detroit

    Detroit or Michigan is a synecdoche for three corporations. Detroit the city, and Michigan the state per se don't need to be destroyed if the corporations are. Why is the discourse framed in terms of "Big 3". That very phrasing is awful. Why the hell are they the big three? They seem like pretty fucking small 3 at the moment.

    Why should it be about the three, as opposed to, the big hundred, say?

  •  I have to admit, (16+ / 0-)

    I hadn't paid much attention to this or given it much thought. I don't really understand economic issues, so I tend to ignore them. But what you say here makes sense. (I also like the variety of names you called Republicans. Creative.) I was already leaning towards supporting the loan to the auto industries, although I've been a bit more skeptical than I ordinarily should have because the bank bailout is getting some bad press (you know, spa visits and such) but as far as I can tell, this is different, and it makes more sense.

    Some people have been saying that we should let them go bankrupt because they couldn't keep up with the greener technology coming from foreign car companies, but really, is the difference that big? (That's not rhetorical--I'm really asking.)

    Yes, i know, I'm the wrost typist ever. At least I knew waht I menat.

    by MarianLibrarian on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:48:28 AM PST

    •  Difference is not that big. (15+ / 0-)

      Toyota's green sales are less than 2% of all their sales. Every Prius is sold at a loss, they are dumping them here in the U.S. as a loss leader, and Japan is still paying Toyota grant money for every Prius sold here. And it still costs Toyota money.

      Toyota's flagsheep vehicle in 2008 was a 14-mpg pick-up truck.

      The difference is not so great.

      •  The real difference is not unions (12+ / 0-)

        not cars that sell that much better.

        It's expansion versus stability in an industry with high retirement costs.

        Particularly when you're dealing with plants inside the U.S.  Think of the hundreds of thousand of of people who were working in 1975 or 1985 at GM and Ford and Chrysler who are now retired, not producing value, and costing the companies a lot of money.  It's a couple hundred thousand workers producing for both their wages and benefits AND a few hundred thousand retirees.

        Now compare to Toyota.  Think of how many people were working at Toyota plants in 1975 or 1985 who are now retired.  Zilch.  So they have tens of thousands of workers producing for their own wages and benefits and practically NO retirees.

        Yes, Santa Claus, there is a Virginia. And it went Democratic.

        by Anarchofascist on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:29:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is true, but... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theran, carolkay, Anarchofascist

          ...I thought the person was asking for a comparison of green qualities between autos, so I was giving them anecdotes.

          That said, yes, what you say is completely correct.

          •  Well, I think people misinterpret (21+ / 0-)

            Toyota and Honda's relative success writ large.  (And tend to ignore the heavily unionized European manufacturers' continued survival.)

            The Japanese and Korean car makers are relatively successful because they've been expanding enough to not be top heavy.  Part of this may be due to their product offering.  But a lot of it has to do with their later entry into the game.  They had more room to grow.

            And it's not like the Big Three's competitors are thriving, either.  Both Honda and Toyota's stocks are off 50% from their highs.  Daimler is off 80%.  Hyundai, Nissan, everyone is getting crushed.

            The economic environment is slaughtering the auto industry worldwide.  The American companies are just doing the worst of the lot because they have the highest legacy costs.

            Yes, Santa Claus, there is a Virginia. And it went Democratic.

            by Anarchofascist on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:47:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Terrific comment (8+ / 0-)

              Once again, liberals end up getting used by the other side for nefarious purposes.

              We CANNOT let one of the Big Three end up in bankruptcy.  Why? Because Chapter 11 bankruptcy will not be for a major automaker, in these economic times, what it would be if things were booming.  In order to survive in reorganization, the automaker would need credit for operations.  Here's the problem right now - they can't get that credit.  So if they can't get it out of Chapter 11, they can't get it IN Chapter 11.  

              As mad as you may get at domestic auto production, if you are driving a foreign car, you're a little guilty yourself.  Yes, in the 70's, domestic auto production sucked as far as quality was concerned.  So the foreign carmakers made a killing, and rightly so.  But the Big Three took care of that problem a long time ago.  Now the liberals are mad at them over the SUV.  But guess what? The American people wanted the SUV, and they went like hotcakes until a couple of years ago.  Were they not supposed to make what was selling?

              The Big Three didn't cause this economic downturn - the banks and the investment firms did (and they are getting bailed out with virtually no strings attached). If you can't get a loan, you can't buy a car.  Go to any dealership, foreign or domestic. They will tell you that what is killing them is the financial crisis.  Go to any port and you will see tons of cars just sitting - there's no place to put them.

              Bottom line? Japan and Germany will save their automakers.  But the US will fiddle while the Big Three burn. You think Michigan will just see a downturn? It will be all over the US.  Factories, suppliers, dealerships, they will all fall like dominos.

              Shelby makes me physically ill.  Alabama will make out like a bandit because of non-union plants owned by the foreign car makers.  Meanwhile, the UAW, which has already made tons of concessions, will be gone, along with our domestic auto production.  You remember the Big Three - they INVENTED the automobile.

              If we don't rescue the domestic automakers, we have no one to blame but ourselves. And the effect throughout our economy will be HUGE.  Millions out of work, businesses closing, it will affect nearly every state in the Union.  So, please, you think this is a golden opportunity to get back at the Big Three?  You will be biting off your nose to spite your face, I guarantee it.

              We do not rent rooms to Republicans.

              by Mary Julia on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:46:06 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Here it is... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                But guess what? The American people wanted the SUV, and they went like hotcakes until a couple of years ago.

                •  BUT WE LET THAT HAPPEN (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  theran, PsychoSavannah, AJ in Camden

                  and I never type in all caps, sorry

                  we, as a people and a government, sat blindly by -- knowing roughly what the state of our oil reserves were, having been warned in the 1970s that there was trouble ahead -- and we allowed those fuel inefficient cars to dominate our highways WITHOUT PENALTY.

                  we -- our government, that is -- allowed those fleets to meet modest fuel efficiency standards so as to build those bigger and bigger cars that advertising told us we needed.

                  if we had simply continued to mandate increased fuel efficiency each year, those SUVs would not now dominate our highways

                  I realize I'm over-simplifying, but...

                  "If kerosene works/Why not gasoline?" -- The Bottle Rockets

                  by Shocko from Seattle on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:36:05 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  The Republicans gave anyone buying an honking (5+ / 0-)

                  SUV over 6000 lbs a Hugh tax write off while letting the tiny, tiny tax credits for hybrids expire.

                  And I'm sure every dealer in America told all the good old boys how they could buy their dream monster truck and get this write off.

              •  Well, there are other ideas.. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Let the weaker of the Three Sisters go (Chrysler/Cerebrus).  in a prepackaged 11 filing, Maybe the USG as the DIP financier.  We're financing everything else now..

                Have the Government backstop warranty work on new and current warranties so there is no worry on that (That would be one problem, but if the USG backs the warranty they can't run out of our money---Or so most would think)

                THere is no financing for these companies because they are not close to credit worthy.  The Gov't (Or Fed) is the lender of last resort now, why not for this?  If it works as well as the other bailouts we have going now:

                AIG, Fannie, Freddie, The bank investments.. TARP

                Oh Wait,

                Not sure if any are good, but..

              •  All the autos financed purchases (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Where do you think the debt that goes into consumer credit securities comes from?  It's not just credit cards.

                "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

                by theran on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:58:43 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  sigh.. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                zinger99, kingyouth

                You remember the Big Three - they INVENTED the automobile.

                Just not true. See Benz, Karl. or maybe Diesel, Rudolf..

                "red hair and black leather, my favorite colour scheme" - Richard Thompson

                by blindcynic on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:37:36 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Exactly, It's Almost All About Legacy Costs (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Anarchofascist, addisnana, semctydem

              If there was a national health care plan, the auto industry's position would improve dramatically, because they're being dragged down by the exorbitant cost of paying for health insurance for hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of retirees, including a ton of non-unionized retirees.  It's a problem facing a lot of industries that once employed a lot of people and now have a lot of retirees, such as the airline industry and a lot of core manufacturing.  

              As commenters on this thread have pointed out, there are a lot of problems with the US auto industry, but they're most not unique to the US industry, and they're certainly not tied to unionization or only to decades of poor management.  And the idea of "let THEM die off" is, as this diarist explains, self-defeating, because the damage won't be limited to "them," it will be to all of us.

              The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

              by Dana Houle on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:10:50 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Is there any place to get numbers on all this? (0+ / 0-)

                I'm having a hard time keeping track of words - do you know where I can find a pie chart that lays out the fraction of GM's operating budget spent on labor, R&D, legacy costs, etc.?  I think that data would be monumentally useful in informing our discussion.

                Give me liberty, or give me death!

                by salsa0000 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:27:14 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Off the Top of My Head, No (0+ / 0-)

                  But I do know, and it shouldn't be hard to find the data, that it's significantly cheaper per car--like over a thousand dollars--for the big three to produce cars in Canada, despite the higher taxes and comparable labor costs, because they don't have to pay for healthcare.  

                  And as mentioned in the diary or on the thread--can't remember where--the legacy costs for the foreign companies with plants in the US are literally almost zero.  They haven't been here long enough to have retirees, so they aren't paying pensions and they aren't paying health care on retirees.  Furthermore, their workforces are for the most part non-union.  Mitsubishi, Mazda and part of Toyota are unionized, but Honda, Nissan and the rest of Toyota are non-union, and their workers make far less money.  

                  The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

                  by Dana Houle on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:44:26 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Yeah this is the part that makes me sympathetic (0+ / 0-)

                    We can yell at the Detroit automakers all we like but (because of the unions) they actually have done some things way better by their workers than the foreign manufacturers while operating under a far less helpful healthcare scheme - we shouldn't lose sight of that.

                    Give me liberty, or give me death!

                    by salsa0000 on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 02:08:38 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                •  here are some facts (0+ / 0-)

                  Haven't fully checked this out and this may not be what you are looking for but here is a place to start

                  UAW Facts

        •  Strictly speaking (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The real issue is the GM failed to adequately fund the retirement costs out of the profits generated when those people were working.  That wasn't a requirement.

          "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

          by theran on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:56:08 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Toyota's flagship vehicle is not a truck (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, Clues

        From a symbolic point of view it is definitely the Prius, and from a money point of view, it is probably the Camry, or Corolla or somthing like that, just because they sell so many.  (The Matrix is extremely popular around here, to the extent that it is probably taking a lot away from the Outback, but I suspect this is a regional thing.)

        The Detroit 3 are identified with trucks symbolically, and it seems to be the only profitable thing they have.  (As opposed to Toyota, which has a robust car business as well as the truck thing.  Honda is basically all cars the the CR-V, Subaru is basically all small SUVs, of various non-standard shapes.)

        What you're onto here is that what is killing GM is the, by now, routine mismanagement and executive malfeasance that killed Lehman and AIG.  Nothing forced the Detroit 3 not to fund their pension obligations adequately, other than a desire to have higher short term profits.  This gamble didn't pay off.  Ditto for not investing in a profitable car line back when gas was cheaper.

        Liberals are correct to be outraged that Rick Wagoner is a global warming denier, but that didn't kill his company.  It's just a symbol of being too stupid to plan ahead.

        Similarly, liberals are correct to applaud Toyota and Japan for investing in green technology, but that's also a symbolic thing.  Toyota---which is also getting hurt badly by the recession, but isn't going out of business---is where it is not for being green but for not being so reckless.

        In summary, a lot of the conversation is stupid/taking place on a metaphorical level.  Back in the real world, it is still unclear what to do, but the $25B will at least give Obama the possibility to take some dramatic action that could force a turnaround.

        On the other hand, as we discussed yesterday, the politics here are very dicey, since the public already (again correctly) feels ripped off by the Wall St. bailout.

        "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

        by theran on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:54:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Stupid Republicans are handing Obama (22+ / 0-)

    a big political victory.

    Their far right has taken over their economic narrative.  Now they want to let the market do its thing and kill off a union.

    Well, Obama gets to stand against the evil heartless Republicans, save Michigan (and much of the Midwest) and save a union.

    And I'd wager that by the time it all shakes out, either two or all three of the automakers will have gone into the black -- hell, I'll bet at least one of the Big Three will become profitable before Obama is up for re-election.

    So Obama gets interest group payoff, regional payoff and media payoff.  And the Republicans will have only appealed to their free market ideologue base and Fox News.

    Yes, Santa Claus, there is a Virginia. And it went Democratic.

    by Anarchofascist on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:53:28 AM PST

  •  Double Standard (21+ / 0-)

    Where was the intense discussion about the salaries at AIG before we gave them 5X as much as we are considering for all three of the auto makers?  I'm not talking about the executive suite at AIG; I'm talking about the bulk of their workforce that gets paid six figures in base salaries.  

    •  Check this out (25+ / 0-)

      This is a blog post about Michael Moore and what he said on a show today about the bailout:

      He says Congress is being hypocritical by not coming to a vote now. They can't make up their minds about the bailout, which will help in a temporary way to preserve the jobs of the blue collar people.
      But if it were big banks, and corporate people in suits and ties, the bags of money would open right away.

    •  Well, they don't. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      So that was easy.

      AIG is a huge company.  Much bigger than any one car company.

      "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false, about hope."

      by DrJeremy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:01:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Auto workers get paid very close to that, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ice Blue

      if we're talking about rank and file workers.  For auto workers who've been there a couple of years, base + overtime can be very close to six figures.  I used to live in a town that had a Ford plant, and many workers started out at about $60K + overtime + great benefits (and note, they had only a high school degree).

      •  Not true (5+ / 0-)

        Do the math.  There are 2080 hours in a work year (40 hours, 52 weeks) that would be about $29/hr as your starting wage.  That is definitely NOT the starting wage at a UAW factory.  My dad was skilled trades for almost 20 years and was forced to early retire...his hourly wage was still under $40 when he left.

        Not everyone gets overtime, and sometimes many factories are idled during some seasons.

        So what is wrong with someone with "only a high school degree" making about $40K a year?  I think most Americans forget that is the way it was just 35 years ago.  Even in the 70s, only one adult, with a high school diploma, had to work for a family to be comfortable.  Now we need both adults to work to just keep afloat.  Single people such as myself have little hope of purchasing a home because we have long been priced out of the "two income housing market."

        The only thing scarier than a McCain presidency is a Palin presidency.

        by Mote Dai on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:44:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here's your political challenge (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mote Dai, YoloMike, spookthesunset

          So what is wrong with someone with "only a high school degree" making about $40K a year?  I think most Americans forget that is the way it was just 35 years ago.  Even in the 70s, only one adult, with a high school diploma, had to work for a family to be comfortable.

          35 years ago, there wasn't a large chunk of the population walking around with huge student debt and no social safety net.  If you want the Detroit 3 bailout to be widely popular, it needs to be packaged in a way that more people can understand today, or be part of a comprehensive proposal.

          "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

          by theran on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:02:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I wasn't addressing the issue of the bailout (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I was addressing the erroneous comment about UAW workers making over $60K as a starting wage.

            But on the topic of the bailout and "selling it to the people":

            Much of the perception framing the "bailout" today is unfortunately colored by years of right wing talking points about lazy and over paid union workers getting something for nothing.  If I could think of a good way to wipe away years of right wing urban legends about unions and union workers in order to start the discussion at a level ground, I would love to share it with everyone.  As long as people fervently believe that someone with "just a high school diploma" doesn't "deserve" a living wage, then we can never move anything forward in the realm of economic well being.

            If the bailout goes under, the right wing for the coming decades will try to use this as a "teaching lesson" in conservative economic schools and thought as an example of why unions are bad and how unions can bring down a whole industry.  The problems with the Big Three are not the result of union decisions.  It is like blaming increased home loans to minorities in the 1970s for the current housing problems.

            The only thing scarier than a McCain presidency is a Palin presidency.

            by Mote Dai on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:53:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Manufacturing starting wage is $28.10 (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              New hires who aren't doing direct manufacturing jobs, such as groundskeepers, will make $14 to $16 an hour, according to the summary. Manufacturing workers would make a starting wage of $28.12 under the new contract.


              UAW workers make much more than a living wage.  As I said, I lived in a town with a huge Ford plant and had friends whose spouses worked in the plant.  They all made (in their late 20s) much better money than those of us with college/grad degrees (plus no student loans).  It isn't just rightwing talking points - I know these people, they are my friends.

              •  Bingo (0+ / 0-)

                And if this was a non-union company asking for a government bailout, you can be your sweet ass the government would laugh them out of the building!

                If FedEx wanted a bailout?  Nope.
                UPS?  Fly on over guys, we'll give you anything you need!

                Palin/Paul 2012 - A hockey mom with a heart of gold bullion.

                by spookthesunset on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:18:47 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Again, wrong. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                stiela, Stomp 442

                From the UAW site:

                In 2006 a typical UAW-represented assembler at GM earned $27.81 per hour of straight-time labor. A typical UAW-represented skilled-trades worker at GM earned $32.32 per hour of straight-time labor. Between 2003 and 2006, the wages of a typical UAW assembler have grown at about the same rate as wages in the private sector as a whole – roughly 9 percent. Part of that growth is due to cost-of-living adjustments that have helped prevent inflation from eroding the purchasing power of workers’ wages.

                That $27.81 number is for a "typical assembler" which is definitely not a "starting" worker.  

                It doesn't matter, because of the new contract negotiation in 2007, the starting wages are now well below $15 an hour with no benefits.  Does that please you now?  Does that put those people in the right "place in society"?

                Hey, you are apparently upset that people without your level of education make more than you.  You had the same option of working in the factory.  Why didn't you?  Don't disparage other people for what they make and what collective bargaining has gained for them.

                The only thing scarier than a McCain presidency is a Palin presidency.

                by Mote Dai on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:45:42 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  I had a similar epiphany today (22+ / 0-)

    I was resolutely against bailing out a business led by people with no long term thinking. Then I watch this interview with Nouriel Roubini

    This is the guy who accurately predicted this financial crisis back in 2006 and before. He has been studying countries whose economies collapse, how they respond to it and what the effect of policy is on the recovery. He has carefully studied all economic collapses since the 1930's worldwide. From what I can tell he knows what he is talking about.

    "Sneezes are like porn to god" <- The Amazing Atheist

    by yuriwho on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 12:58:27 AM PST

  •  I frankly don't think there's a good solution, (8+ / 0-)

    at this point. The crash will come no matter what happens.

    The way Congress handled the Wall Street bailout does not fill me with confidence. Why won't this bailout be just the same? A blatant giveaway of good taxpayer cash to the guys at the top, no questions asked and no supervision to make sure it's being used for the intended purposes.

    And then the CEOs would turn the cash into mansions, yachts, and so forth, and would abandon the companies when things got really bad. And the unions would die anyway when it all came crashing down.

    My take is that the government will have to start a crash federal program to develop more efficient vehicles and sustainable technologies, analogous to the rearmament program we undertook to prepare for WWII. But that is not politically practicable at this time.

    •  Regulation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, kyril, AuroraDawn

      and rules tied to any bailout cash is the way to go.

      "Sneezes are like porn to god" <- The Amazing Atheist

      by yuriwho on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:11:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "regulation and rules"? (6+ / 0-)

        we've seen that movie before.

        In the six weeks since lawmakers approved the Treasury's massive bailout of financial firms, the government has poured money into the country's largest banks, recruited smaller banks into the program and repeatedly widened its scope to cover yet other types of businesses, from insurers to consumer lenders.

        Along the way, the Bush administration has committed $290 billion of the $700 billion rescue package.

        Yet for all this activity, no formal action has been taken to fill the independent oversight posts established by Congress when it approved the bailout to prevent corruption and government waste. Nor has the first monitoring report required by lawmakers been completed, though the initial deadline has passed.

        I'm not at all sanguine about the idea that the next bailout will be any better-supervised than this one.

        Like I said, only direct federal intervention in the form of a crash program will really do the job at this point. Indiscriminately pouring good money after bad is not going to help anything.

        •  The language in the bill (6+ / 0-)

          needs to be more specific. The Paulson Plan was a disaster from the get go. It did not have hard and fast rules about regulation before spending.

          "Sneezes are like porn to god" <- The Amazing Atheist

          by yuriwho on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:33:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  We can spend our way out of this. (21+ / 0-)


          Fucking 30 years of Reaganomic/Milton Friedman bullshit has warped Americans sense of capitalism. Nobody seems to remember it's an economic system created by people to serve people, and it can be directed and controlled to an extent. People believe Ayn Randian truisms are like the weather or something. It's ridiculous.

          Wake up, folks! We CAN spend our way out of this. It's called Keynesianism. Friedman's ideas, the Austrian School's ideas and Marxism are NOT the only options. Spending our way out of this is what FDR did to keep people fed during the Depression, and it's how we won WWII, too.

          The crash won't necessarily come if we work to prevent it. If the government spends the money to prevent it.

          Tax cuts for the rich or nationalisation are not the only economic solutions the world has to offer. There are other choices.

          Isn't it worth trying to prevent an automaker and millions of American jobs from failing? Compared to what's been spend so far, this is a pittance, less than a tenth. About the same cost as two months of Bush's war.

          Besides, the car companies don't want a hand-out. They are asking for a loan, because the credit markets have frozen up. Isn't that what the bailout was supposed to do? Free-up cash? Well, here's a coule companies that need that cash freed up.

          •  do you think the Democrats (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            carolkay, kyril, Losty, WedtoReason

            will stand up to the CEOs of Ford and GM?

            This whole setup stinks to high heaven. Who will make sure the money is spent as it is supposed to be spent instead of going to the people at the top? Who will make sure that the big players don't just use federal money to buy out smaller competitors and crush innovation?

            The same Democrats who voted to turn over the keys to the Treasury to a band of thieves are going to stand up now and make sure things go right?

            They've used this play twice already--"Give us more more money and power, or else something horrible will happen!" Once with the AUMF, once with the Paulson bailout. The third time might be the charm, but I sincerely doubt it.

            Congress is the playground of the richest 1%, and will still be their playground come January.

            Like I said, we need a massive federal program, comparable to the rearmament program FDR initiated to prepare for WWII, to fund and stimulate development and manufacture of sustainable vehicles. $25 billion is peanuts by comparison to what will be needed for that. The won't be the political will for that kind of sweeping initiative until we are in the middle of a full-on crash.

            Your plea is an eloquent one, but it's simply not going to happen. Not with things the way they are.

            •  Obama will have an auto Czar.... (0+ / 0-)

              ...and the government will own enough stock that they can oust the board if they don't comply.  It really is a comprehensive program!

              It profits a PUMA nothing to give their soul for the whole world... but for McCain? --Sir Thomas More (if he were here now)

              by LordMike on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:19:12 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  How is the first Bailout oversight working out? (0+ / 0-)

              You know, for the billions and trillions and gazillions that many generations of American citizens will be in bondage for, the one they did a few weeks ago?, all transparent and not being wasted or going missing "under the table"? That's good.

              Fine, do it again, really, no need to keep books or anything. Sorry to inconvenience you.

              It is a damned shame Cheney already moved his money to Dubai, if he was broke and needed money, THEN he would be happy to show up for Congress.
              Can't enforce a simple subpoena but we trust them to supervise handing trillions to people who are GIGANTIC failures at handling money?

              What could possibly go wrong?

            •  Not asking gov't to stand up to the Big Three. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              stiela, jds1978

              I'm not asking the government to stand up to the Big Three.

              I'm advocating that the government gives them the loans.

              Chrysler got a bailout once before, and the American government got paid back. They'll do the same this time if given the opportunity.

              Also, truthfully, if the autos cannot get anything out of this Congress and lame-duck administration and they can mangage to hold on until Jan. 21 -- temporary shutdowns? -- then Obama and the Democratic Congress will cut those checks so fast it will make our heads spin.

              Thankfully, Obama seems to have a better grasp of the issues with GM than a lot of Kossacks.

              •  GM is burning through $2 billion a month. (0+ / 0-)

                Dividing $25 billion equally among the big three, that means they'll last a little over four months before they're back again, begging for more.

                We are far, far beyond the point where a "bailout" can help matters. This ain't 1979. Then, it was a $1.5 billion loan to help them retool and modernize.

                Now we're talking about giving them many billions of dollars just to meet operating costs for a little while. Huge difference.

                And in any case, there are disturbing signs that the bailout money won't be used for its intended purpose.

                Once they get the bailout money, GM and Chrysler will merge, lay off many thousands of workers while fledging the nests of their CEOs, and we will be doubly fucked when the Big Two finally fail.

                In my opinion, there is also too narrow a focus on helping the Big Three and not enough in helping foster fledgling companies who are seriously interested in developing alternative-fuel vehicles.

                Only an FDR-style federal program to develop alternative-fuel vehicles and sustainable technologies and modernize infrastructure will do the job. Otherwise the big corporations will just suck the sweet government tit dry and leave us nothing for it.

          •  A good overview of anti-Depression economics (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Brian Bell, PsychoSavannah, Ice Blue

            for our times can be had at this link: video of a recent interview of Bill Moyers with Galbraith. Transcript provided just below the video:


            Habeas Corpus:See Hamilton quoting Blackstone in The Federalist Papers, number 84.

            by Ignacio Magaloni on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:54:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  the crash will come: putting on the brakes will (10+ / 0-)

      reduce the impact and the injuries, and prevent a few fatalities.

      Yes, we're headed for crashes on a number of fronts.  But if we put the brakes on, if we take whatever steps can be taken within the scope of the Constitution, we can reduce the impact significantly.

      If we don't, the cost of fixing the mess at the other end is going to be many times higher in both dollars, lives, and quality of life for all of us.  

      •  you should reread my last paragraph: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, yuriwho

        what I'm proposing goes much further than a bailout.

        •  i did, but i misinterpreted... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...your last paragraph (WW2-style production) as being subordinate to your main point, rather than as being a counterpoint.

          Either way, point taken, and yes we should.  

        •  I think auto companies would be better at (8+ / 0-)

          doing that than the government would be. I think the government should focus on a new energy infrastructure that will provide rapid charge electricity stations all over the US based on renewable energy and nuclear. I also support the government getting involved in Nuclear. In particular I like the Thorium Molten Salt reactor technology......but I would defer to the scientists who really know the most on this topic.

          "Sneezes are like porn to god" <- The Amazing Atheist

          by yuriwho on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:29:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  i'm with you on all of the above. (6+ / 0-)

            And interestingly enough, I'm also with you re. thorium reactors.  Wild coincidences there, we have a lot of ideas in common.

            Hey folks: about those thorium reactors:  the "waste" has a 30-year lifespan so long-term storage is not necessary, and the fissionable fuel cannot be used to make nuclear weapons.  

            The technology is known good and viable.  One of these was built in the 60s as a test case.  The only reason they didn't build more was because the infrastructure for uranium was in place and more convenient than building new infrastructure for thorium.   But we have the time to develop that infrastructure now, and we need it badly as part of the overall climate-clean energy mix.  

            •  Another reason they were not pursued (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              carolkay, PsychoSavannah, kyril

              by private industry is that most of the companies that make money from the Nuclear industry sell fuel or services to the reactors and Thorium is literally dirt cheap, thus little money to be made. As a government financed energy program it could be awesome. The fuel re-processing is the most difficult part of the equation. But it is very doable.

              "Sneezes are like porn to god" <- The Amazing Atheist

              by yuriwho on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:18:35 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  It's not taxpayer cash (0+ / 0-)

      It's fiat cash.

    •  I have pretty much your intuition (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The choices are all shitty.  But they are along the lines of the following:

      1. Do nothing.  Probability of complete collapse of everything and manufacturing killed is 1.
      1. GM can haz bailout.  GM will waste all $25B in like 4 months, but at least Obama will be in by then, and there is a slight chance of something better getting worked out.

      The only real difference between 1 and 2 is the level of chaos that Obama is going to inherit.  (Remember that once the holiday retail numbers come in, we're going to see a lot more liquidations.)

      "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

      by theran on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:06:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just retired, at 55, because of my union! (27+ / 0-)

    I pay a bit for health care, but I'm making close to what I made before retirement. A big union benefit is health care, the costs of which are insane.
    To blame autoworkers for Management's mistakes is typical for anti union types. The gap between workers and executives has risen faster than wage increases.

    •  Sweet deal. (4+ / 0-)

      Hate to ask the question, but might that not be part of the problem?  I know corporate lawyers who are 65 and can't afford to retire.

      "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false, about hope."

      by DrJeremy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:25:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Cry Me A River (13+ / 0-)

        You know 65 year old corporate lawyers who can't retire and you're using that as basis for saying that wages are too high with union labor?  Gimme a break.

        What 65 year old corporate lawyer does not have a compensation and benefits package that far exceeds what the typical UAW worker USED to get?  I say USED to get, because under the concessions the UAW agreed to last year all the legacy costs shift to the union in 2010 and new hires at the Big Three actually start out at levels that are LESS than what the non-union auto plants in the US are paying.

        •  Apparently, lots of them. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          carolkay, NoMoJoe

          Since you could afford to retire at 55 with close to full health benefits and I know lots of corporate lawyers who couldn't.  And yes, I am using that as a basis.  In real life, education should help you move up in the world.  And yes, call me crazy, but someone with a law degree should make more than someone with a high school diploma.  Oooohh, baaadd, elitist.  We don't like education in this country, we sure as heck don't want to encourage it by paying educated people more oh nooooo.

          So maybe you should be crying the false river.  

          "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false, about hope."

          by DrJeremy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:51:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Corporate Lawyer Retirement Fund (9+ / 0-)

            Let's get out the tin cups and start taking collection for these (alleged) 65 year old corporate lawyers you know that can't retire.  

            Personally I don't think you know a single 65 year old corporate lawyer who can't retire.  But I feel for those imaginary people in their upscale homes who lived beyond their means and the plight they face in these dire times.

            The sheer arrogance of trying to equate corporate lawyers with blue collar workers trying to make a living wage is something to behold.

          •  No one said we didn't like education... (16+ / 0-)

            You seem like a nice person based on other posts of yours I’ve read, but you are completely clueless about unions.

            Do you think all union workers retire at 55? Do you think all of those who do retire are living lives of luxury? Most don’t retire in their 50s, and they certainly aren’t living lives more comfortable than your average lawyer. Or your average doctor, either. Many lose their health benefits after they retire. My dad did, and that’s why he had to keep working. That and the fact that his pension, while very necessary to my parents’ survival, isn’t enough to cover the bills. Do they have it better than some workers? Yes, they have it much better than the non-Union workers at Wal-mart who have no health coverage, and who would have to work five jobs just to survive. But I can tell you one thing, Sir, my dad never made more money than a corporate lawyer. You are still above my dad and most union workers on the pay grade scale, I assure you.

            Your main problem is that you seem to believe my father and other union members were given something for free, something they didn’t earn. My father earned everything he’s ever had in life. He deserves every damn dime of his pension, even if he isn’t as well educated as you are.

            I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard! ~ William Lloyd Garrison

            by AuroraDawn on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:06:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Fair point, and no, I totally don't think (0+ / 0-)

              that, I was responding to one particular post.

              But don't be too quick to harsh on lawyers.  They lose their health benefits after they retire as well, or after they are laid off, as many are, with a "toodles," and "have a nice life," and nothing more.

              And I'm not above anyone on any pay scale.  But that's a layoff and a glass ceiling issue.  And my personal hell.

              But here's the key, you say that your dad earned every dime of his pension.  Well, how do you define that?  He worked all his life, did the best he could, gave 100%?  Lots of professionals do the same thing and get eff all nothing when they retire.  Now that was all fine when the stock market was ok, because they had these 401k things that they paid into all their working lives, often with no choice but to buy company stock.  Then the company goes bust.  And they have . . . nothing.  And they're 60 or 65, with really, nothing but their houses. And they need to keep working, assuming they can, because what they thought was a sweet nest egg that they had put aside over years is suddenly worth about twenty cents.

              "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false, about hope."

              by DrJeremy on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 12:36:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I’m very sorry that there are lawyers... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Stomp 442

                who retire with nothing, really I am, but whatever did that have to do with Sally (the person you first posted to) receiving a pension and benefits because of her union? I’m not trying to be sarcastic. Perhaps I honestly didn’t understand your first post, but you stated that you thought her union benefits "might be part of the problem." What problem? How are her union benefits, or anyone else’s benefits, connected to the inability of lawyers to retire? I really would like to understand what you meant by that.

                I wasn’t judging lawyers. I wrote in another post that I thought they performed a valuable service, and I meant that. What I don’t understand is why you seem to think they’ve been harmed by unions. That just makes no sense to me. Do you think they would make more money and have benefits if unions didn’t exist? Or is that you resent union workers having benefits because the lawyers don’t have them? I really don’t understand what point you were trying to make with your original post.

                This quote alone for example:

                But here's the key, you say that your dad earned every dime of his pension.  Well, how do you define that?  He worked all his life, did the best he could, gave 100%?  Lots of professionals do the same thing and get eff all nothing when they retire.  Now that was all fine when the stock market was ok, because they had these 401k things that they paid into all their working lives, often with no choice but to buy company stock.  Then the company goes bust.  And they have . . . nothing.

                To me it just seems like you resent my Dad and union workers who get a pension because you lost your 401k in the stock market and won’t get a pension yourself. I really don’t know how else to interpret that comment and the others you've made in previous posts. How is it my Dad’s fault that you lost your 401k? Why should he or other union workers be punished for that by having their benefits taken away? I mean do you really think that no one should receive a pension because you (or your friend) don’t have one? Wouldn’t it make more sense, instead of taking away the retirement of others, to create a more equitable system where everyone was assured some form of retirement?

                As for people having nothing but their houses, my parents have no savings. Not even 20 cents. They live from paycheck to paycheck. They had to spend everything on healthcare after my mother had a stroke. My father lost his health benefits when he retired from his union job. To pay for the medical bills incurred after my mother’s stroke they not only spent their life savings, they eventually had to sell their home. Just in case you’re wondering, they didn’t make a profit. All of the money from selling their home went to pay off their bills. Now they rent. My dad’s 72 and, as I wrote earlier, he still works because his pension doesn’t cover the monthly bills. I realize how difficult the "golden years" can be for many people.

                I’m very sorry that you were laid off. I sincerely mean that. While I disagree strongly with some of what you wrote in your earlier posts, I can understand why you would feel frustrated. I really hope you are able to find work soon.

                I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard! ~ William Lloyd Garrison

                by AuroraDawn on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 02:18:51 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Is that a socialist remark? (5+ / 0-)

            And yes, call me crazy, but someone with a law degree should make more than someone with a high school diploma.

            Because it doesn't sound very capitalist to me.  On the other hand it's a strange kind of socialism.

            Tell you what, I'm working towards a PhD in philosophy for which I expect never to earn 100,000 a year, but hell, it will have taken me lots of edumacation to get.  So I want on this gravy train, too: I should get more than an auto worker who put 20 years into working in a hell-hole of a factory.

            Coal miners too, fuck'em.  Fuck'em all because I wanted to learn about stuff.

            Sorry, I didn't mean to get on your case; I just don't see how that principle goes anywhere good.

          •  Naive or just a contrarian? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jds1978, AuroraDawn

            I guess corporate lawyers need to get themselves a union.

            For one thing, there's an issue with years of service between blue collar workers and professionals.  Some quick math: if it seems reasonable to say that someone should be eligible for retirement after 30 years of service to the company, you have a major discrepancy between a UAW working stiff who started at age 18-20 = eligible at age 50 (!) versus a lawyer who's at best entering the professional workforce at 26 (though most I know are considerably older starting out).  That's a minimum age of 56.  Add into that the crushing cost of undergrad and professional school and you can see why retirement isn't an option until much later.  (I'd stress here too, that law school at three years is one of the faster paths to the workforce, compared to medicine or the PhD which can easily eat up 7-10 very productive years of one's life).

            Why then does anyone make this choice?  Lack of options for one thing.  Even with the lost wages, out of pocket expenses for tuition, it is rewarding to use one's mind to support themselves especially as it has the benefit of being sustainable well into one's 70s or 80s; simply not the case with the repetitive stress of factory work or physical labor.

        •  here's one difference (7+ / 0-)

          you do physical work like make things, your body breaks down

          you sit at a desk...not so much...and going to the gym isn't the same as banging with a wrench or a nail gun all day

          "If kerosene works/Why not gasoline?" -- The Bottle Rockets

          by Shocko from Seattle on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:40:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Can’t afford to by what standard? (14+ / 0-)

        My guess would be that a retired corporate lawyer maintains a lifestyle that is a tad more luxurious, and more expensive, than your average union worker.

        With all due respect, Doctor, perhaps if your corporate lawyer acquaintances lived according to the more stringent budget of a union worker they would be able to retire before they were 65.

        Sorry, but this "union members are the problem" argument really pisses me off. The problem isn’t that people in unions make a living wage. The problem would be the CEOs with the golden parachutes that make at least 50% what the average union worker makes. Perhaps if they made a bit less their companies wouldn’t go bankrupt.

        The whole "union workers ruined the company" with their demands argument reminds me of that old Republican BS about "welfare Queens" in Cadillacs.

        It’s not such a sweet deal, sir. Many union workers, in spite of all their benefits, still have to work when they retire. Ask my 72 year old father who still goes to work every day.

        I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard! ~ William Lloyd Garrison

        by AuroraDawn on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:46:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Words matter. I was responding (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to someone who retired at 55 with close to full salary and medical benefits.  The lawyers I know don't have any of that, or pensions, because that just isn't done.  Their retirement funds were in the stock market.  Any questions?

          "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false, about hope."

          by DrJeremy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:53:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  unions' retirement funds are in the (13+ / 0-)

            stock market too.

            And guess what else?

            "Lawyers vs. autoworkers" is a false dichotomy.  

            Lawyers are much closer to autoworkers in terms of income etc., than they are to the stratospheric CEO and similar type income levels.  

            Don't let the righties play off the lower-upper-class against the middle class.  The real action is happening in the upper-upper-class levels, and that's where to look for redress.  

            •  Exactly. I'm with you, there is some (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PsychoSavannah, LithiumCola

              chumley out there being a tool about lawyers.

              That said, anyone without a pension plan, with a 401k, is pretty much not retiring any time soon.  Someone seems to be confused about that, somehow.

              "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false, about hope."

              by DrJeremy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:10:07 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Then surely the idea would be to (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                miamiboats, AuroraDawn

                get everyone a retirement plan, not take them away from those who do have them.

                •  Would that that were possible. (0+ / 0-)

                  I'd be all for it.  But it just doesn't work in today's economy.  Which sucks, because it should.

                  "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false, about hope."

                  by DrJeremy on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 12:17:55 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  The whole point is to... (0+ / 0-)

                raise the standard of living for all.

                It seems to me that the problem isn’t the unions, but the corporations that employ both union workers and corporate lawyers.

                The reason that union workers have benefits, and the corporate lawyers don’t, is because the lawyers don’t have a union. Let the lawyers form a union, too, if they are getting a raw deal. Then they can negotiate with the corporation for better wages and benefits, just like the union workers have. Then, perhaps, the lawyers will be able to retire before they're 65 or 70.

                I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard! ~ William Lloyd Garrison

                by AuroraDawn on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:20:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I totally agree. But is that possible? (0+ / 0-)

                  And the companies remain competitive globally?  That's certainly the best plan for the workers, and by workers, I mean all the workers, even the professional ones, who also deserve some security.

                  "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false, about hope."

                  by DrJeremy on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 12:19:55 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  It would depend on the lawyer... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Wilmguy, limpidglass, kyril, addisnana

              A lawyer at a good law firm can make far more than any auto worker could every dream of making. Which is why you are correct, and lawyers vs. autoworkers is a false dichotomy.

              I have no problem with lawyers or their salaries. I don't begrudge anyone the money they make for hard work. We are certainly going to need some very good lawyers to clean up the mess that has been created by Bush. What I do have a problem with are posters who seem to imply that union workers are living the life of riley. It just annoys me no end, because it’s patently false.

              I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard! ~ William Lloyd Garrison

              by AuroraDawn on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:12:54 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Your words (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            stiela, miamiboats, AuroraDawn

            Your words: you know 65 year old corporate lawyers who can't retire.

            65 isn't 55.

            Words matter and all that.

          •  asdf (6+ / 0-)

            The lawyers I know don't have any of that, or pensions, because that just isn't done.

            Sounds like they need a union!

          •  Agree with poster up thread (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I see where you are coming from with this post.  It's useful to think in real numbers as well.  If you're looking for retirement at full salary/full benefits, the second part is a universal expectation, the first not so much.  If a worker is making $55K a year, it seems feasible to sustain something close to that wage to maintain a comfortable living standard.  If you're making in excess of $100K/year, frankly it doesn't seem reasonable, IMHO, to maintain 100% of that income during retirement.  Maybe that's grossly unfair, so be it.

          •  If they were 65 and still in the stock market (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            miamiboats, AuroraDawn

            Then they weren't very smart lawyers, now were they?

            Even still in the stock market at 55 is not recommended.  You shift your assets.  

            The only thing scarier than a McCain presidency is a Palin presidency.

            by Mote Dai on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 07:50:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  shift them to where? (0+ / 0-)

              with large employers cancelling traditional pension plans, and forcing employees into fabulous 401ks instead  ("Wouldn't you rather have this 401k?  YOU control your money, and it's portable!!"), there are sometimes not a lot of choices.  The employer chooses an umbrella company to manage the 401ks and they provide some subset of options to put the money into.

              I know with mine, NOTHING is going up right now, and you can try jumping to bonds if stocks are looking bad, or jumping back and forth between American and various foreign investments..doesn't matter.  It's all going...going...gone.

              I understand that a corp lawyer might have more independence in this matter, but just wanted to make the point that MANY people are pretty well stuck in the stock market now, and have lost any chance at the pensions they were promised.

              •  Retirement planning (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Not that I wanted to get into a real financial planning discussion (I was basically being snarky in response to the commenter's poorly constructed arguments about fictional 65 year old corporate lawyers he/she pals around with)...

                Your 401(k) shouldn't be the only source of your retirement income.  It should be "A" source, but not necessarily the only source.  Workers now have to be more responsible in a financial environment without the "defined benefits" of pension plans. There are other savings vehicles available to even not so savvy investors (individual IRAs...Roth/Traditional...your own stock/bond portfolio, etc).  

                The only thing scarier than a McCain presidency is a Palin presidency.

                by Mote Dai on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 09:01:20 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  YoloMike, zinger99

                  I feel much better now, because I DID plan and save my whole life and I do have other sources of retirement income.

                  Let's see..there's my pension that just got cut another 27%.

                  There's my house, which I will own free and clear in another 6 months because I've been paying it off early for the past 15 years, and it's worth....umm..well we better not go there.

                  There's social security, which I MAY collect since we finally have elected some people who don't want to kill it.

                  Just what exactly am I missing, that the ordinary working schmoe can put together in the way of retirement savings over a lifetime of hard work, paying bills and medical expenses, tuition, and buying groceries and gas?

                  •  You are definitely missing the point... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Norm DePlume, AuroraDawn

                    ...from my original post.

                    The guy was referring to supposedly 65 year old corporate lawyers that were broke, not "working schmoes," that couldn't retire.    He created an extreme, and probably fictional account, to disparage a union worker that was able to retire at the age of 55 with health benefits.

                    The only thing scarier than a McCain presidency is a Palin presidency.

                    by Mote Dai on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 10:39:34 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I didn't miss it (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      That's why I said this:

                      I understand that a corp lawyer might have more independence in this matter, but just wanted to make the point that MANY people are pretty well stuck in the stock market now, and have lost any chance at the pensions they were promised.

                      I agree that the guy's comment was ridiculous.  If a 65 year old corp lawyer can't retire, they're either greedy, unusually unlucky, or stupid.  But your reply seemed to make a blanket statement about everyone's retirement planning, which is why I responded to it.

                  •  Asset Allocation (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Too many people who are either retired or nearing retirement have not followed a basic rule of thumb for their investable asset allocations (i.e. both retirement and non-retirement funds).  That rule of thumb is to take your retirement age, subtract your current age and that should be your maximum exposure to equities.  If you are 55 and expect to retire at 65 you should not have more than 10% in equities.

                    You cannot control how your pension is invested but look at this way ... lots of people (like me) do not have a pension so perhaps you should consider yourself fortunate that you have something that millions do not.

                    As for your house ... if you bought your house 15 years ago you have substantial equity in that asset.  It had gone down in value of late but it also wen up at extraordinary amounts in the last 10 years as well.

            •  401k. Often required to invest (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              in company stock.  Company goes under, your 401k goes bye-bye.

              "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false, about hope."

              by DrJeremy on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 12:40:57 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Umm... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The world is not divided between the corporate lawyer fatcats and the cushy autoworkers.  The vast majority of Americans have neither reliable incomes nor benefits.  Can we focus on making sure everybody has a basically acceptable standard of living before we squabble over the blue collar / white coallr upper middle class?

          •  It wasn't my intention to squabble... (0+ / 0-)

            I simply found Dr Jeremy’s post both uninformed and insulting.

            He stated that another poster "might be part of the problem" because her union had provided her with a pension and benefits that would allow her to retire. I found that inference insulting. I don’t know how else you could interpret that post, Sir.

            For him to disparage a union worker, and imply that somehow union workers were the reason that his corporate lawyer friends couldn’t retire, was absurd. That was the point of my post, to point out that absurdity.

            The argument isn’t between lawyers and autoworkers, or lawyers and union members; the real problem is between corporations and everyone they employ. If corporate lawyers aren’t able to retire they shouldn't blame union workers lucky enough to have benefits, they should blame the corporations for failing to pay them decently and provide them with benefits.

            It was never my intent to suggest that the world was divided between lawyers and union members. It is Dr. Jeremy who seems to be laboring under that misconception. I apologize if you misunderstood my post.

            I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard! ~ William Lloyd Garrison

            by AuroraDawn on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:36:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  My take home is close- no SS/Medicare/ Deductions (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, AuroraDawn
        •  I have a BS plus 105 term hours= 6+ years college (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, AuroraDawn
          •  Yes, many union workers do in fact... (0+ / 0-)

            have a college education. Teachers would be one example of this. My mother, who did attend college, was also a union worker before having me.

            So to suggest union workers shouldn’t earn as much, because they aren’t well-educated, is another absurdity. Some union workers are very well-educated. Thank you for being more patient than I am and pointing that out.

            I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard! ~ William Lloyd Garrison

            by AuroraDawn on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:41:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  hardly (16+ / 0-)

        Americans work harder than citizens in just about every other modern democracy, and get lower wages, worse conditions, less vacation time, no health care, and very often a kick in the rear end at the end of the day.

        How'bout one month paid vacation each year, as per the standard in Europe?

        How'bout universal health care as per the standard in Europe?

        How'bout decent pensions, as per (you guessed it) the standard in Europe?

        What the hell else is money for?  To feather the nests of the top 1/10 of 1% while we're having a national emergency?

        Americans are workaholics as it is, and that needs to change.  "Life out of balance" and the diseases that go along with.  Europeans eat fatty foods and plenty of sweets, drink like fish, and smoke like chimneys, and they live longer than we do and have more sex into the bargain.   We need to stop the f---ing high-speed treadmill and give people a chance to breathe.  

    •  Yes, that is what really gets to me. (15+ / 0-)

      They are trying to lump the unions and management together. How ignorant is that? By "they" I mean the MSM and the Republicans.

      Sadly, some people don’t understand how unions work and they will buy into that argument, and will believe that some how the auto workers union is to blame for the failure of the auto industry. Ensuring that workers earned a living wage and received decent benefits isn’t what ruined the auto industry. The greedy CEOs, those fools with the golden parachutes, the proud Bush "Pioneers," managed to destroy the Big Three all by themselves in the same way their ilk has destroyed everything else. It’s shameful the way the rightwing is allowed to twist the truth.

      My dad was a union member, and it was because of his union membership that my parents are able to feed and cloth themselves. It ensured that I had health care when I was sick as a child, very sick. I would have died at age 9 without that healthcare coverage. My parents never would have been able to afford the astronomical cost of the many procedures and tests I had to undergo. Because of the union, my father has the pension he couldn’t live without.

      I’m thirty years younger than you are, and I'm not a union member, but my experience as a union member’s kid has made me a lifelong believer in the necessity of fighting for strong unions. What’s going on makes my blood boil.

      I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard! ~ William Lloyd Garrison

      by AuroraDawn on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:37:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  For supporters of the bailout, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        YoloMike, spookthesunset, Losty

        with all respect, I think some of you have been drinking some sort of koolaid.

        The "soundbite" statements are getting old.

        Falsity One:  People against the bailout are lumping the union and management together.  

        I am not lumping the two together, but the "person" who will get and spend the money is the management.  (BTW, I think there are economic issues that prevent the bailout from saving all three no matter what happens). How is the union going to force the management to spend the money appropriately?  (now that would be productive).

        I think union members make good money.  Do they make the $73/hr.?  No, but at $18, 20, 33, 28 an hour plus benefits, I can send you 30,000 from a similar socio economic community who would love that.

        Falsity Two:  Without the bailout,the industry would collapse.  

        I certainly think GM will collapse, but that would allow Ford Chrysler and (yes the others)to have less competition.  I don't buy the fact that crucial supplies will go bankrupt and prevent Ford and Chrysler from continuing on.

        Falsity Three:  In six months to a year, sales will return to normal.

        Sales will never return to the level the three were used to.  People have been overbuying for a few years--houses, cars, etc.  If we are to be economically healthy, we will not be able to continue to buy the way we did.

        ((My husband builds houses---ughhhh, I feel the pain)).

        The recession is beginning and not ending and will probably last 2-4 years.  We haven't even begun to absorb the job lossess that have been announced.  Many of the job losses won't occur until spring, fall 2009 or even later.  

        Healthy companies will have a hard time making it.  Ill companies half such a small chance.

        Falsity Four:  $25 billion will sustain the companies through the recession

        The big question is:  How much will it take to reasonable sustain the companies and put them in a position that they can compete in the future.  The recession (and reduced reveneues) must be factored in.  The surplus of cars at car lots must be factored in.  Operating costs must be factored in.  R&D costs to get them where they need to be need to be factored in.  

        Remember, if this is a loan, then it needs to be repaid.  How will that factor in.

        My suggestion:  Give (not loan, but give) each of the companies $5 million.  Wipe out the management and replace them with the union.  Let the union run the company.  Then loan them $10 million more a company as they need be and let them sink or swim.

        •  I don't think all people against... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the bailout are lumping together management and the union. Many, like you, have very well reasoned arguments against supporting it. However, much of the MSM is lumping the two together, so are most of the rightwing, and even a few progressives.

          I’ve haven’t had any Kool-Aid to drink. I’m a supporter only because, as I wrote elsewhere, I don’t see any real alternative to help those employed by the Big Three and all those employed in related fields. If there is a better way to help the employees keep their jobs, or to help them survive losing their jobs, I would by all means be willing to listen to that plan. If your suggestion would work, fine. I would have no problem with alternative plans. I don’t have my heart set on the bailout. I’m just willing to go along with it if it proves to be the only viable option. What I can’t imagine is having us all just sit idly by why millions of Americans lose their jobs in an already dreadful economy. I would like to see our government find some reasonable solution, whether it be the bailout or some other plan.

          I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard! ~ William Lloyd Garrison

          by AuroraDawn on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:20:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Assumptions (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          exsimo2, jds1978, AuroraDawn

          I think you are right conerning the duration of the recession.  But this money is for day to day operations, not R&D for future competitiveness.  Restructuring is already underway, but this downturn has caught them in the middle of it.  If people were still buying cars at even the rate they were early this year, these companies could have probably weathered the storm.  

          I don't understand the comment about union wages.  Sure, they make more than a lot of people do, but that's a GOOD thing.  Should we all be racing to the bottom?  In fact, one could argue that their wage levels help prop others up.  There is (albeit less and less) competition for good labor also.  Just because we could ship (and I'm purposely taking an extreme) a bunch of Mexicans to Michigan who would work for $5/hr doesn't mean that this represents the inherent "worth" of the task.

          I think suppliers are in danger.  I'm an engineer for a supplier, and although we are stable (a privately held German company), we've made massive cuts.  Other suppliers are ready to collapse.  Even negotiated payments under bankruptcy could push them over the edge.  This would also affect the trasplant automakers, as their parts could be more difficult to obtain.  Keep in mind that suppliers must invest and retool for specific components.  Just because one makes a part, doesn't mean the other has capacity or could make the same without a lot of investment.  Where will that come from?  There are other industries that would suffer as well.  Most suppliers also provide parts for the John Deere's, Caterpillar, Cummins, even Briggs and Strattons of the world.  We are all closely connected.  Beyond that are the raw material suppliers - steel, iron, rubber, minerals for surface treatments, and last the companies that manufacture robots, assembly equipment, automation equipment, etc....

          Extra capacity is an issue, and it's already being addressed.  The "big 3" in particular have downsized massively in the last few years.  New products are also in the pipeline.  Ford is bringing over the Fiesta, GM plans to release the high mpg Cruze in 2009 or 2010.  But it takes time.  Putting one of these plants together is an enormous task.  This money only allows them to operate until they are smaller/and people buy cars (not the level of before) again.  The other manufacturers are hurting as well, but they are not as leveraged in the US.  If you think the governments of Germany and Japan would not try to intervene if their auto industries faltered, you are mistaken.

          •  As to the comment about wages, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            exsimo2, nhDave

            I addressed this in another comment. What got some of us in ires with the bailout was not the $70 allegations, it was the mouths of the CEO's and the realization that they still don't get it and no matter how much we give them, they will still misspend it.  Where I live, things are sooooooooooo stressful. People are losing jobs right and left.  $20 or $25 an hour is a great! wage normally and with so many being laid off it looks like a pot of gold.  

            When the union members or other supporters spend so much energy refuting the $70 by presenting what they really make and again in terms of needing the bailout, I think it inadvertently hurts their case because the "only make $20 or $25 an hour plus healthcare and pension" and "there is no way that the healtchare amounts to $20 an hour" a person worried about their $10 an hour job, with no healthcare, pension or vacation, may not take it the way you intend.  I'd shut up about the whole wage issue and focus on the problem, the management and how things will be different.

            It sounds encouraging that most of the suppliers are broadening their business in case of a crises.

            •  Hope (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              zinger99, AuroraDawn, soundchaser

              As a person making $9.75 an hour as a part time retail worker with no job security, no health insurance, no savings, and no pension when i hear there are still jobs in existence where workers earn a livable wage it gives me hope. The thought that all of these jobs will be eliminated and all of those people will become people like me, making $8 to $10 an hour (if they're lucky to find a job at all) makes me feel ill. If these jobs are eliminated there is no hope for the American worker. The elitists have won.

              •  So the Question Is... (0+ / 0-)

                Do we want an economy where one privileged sector and its workers receive subsidies to allow a livable wage (the approach of the bailout), or do we want livable wages based on environmentally and economically sustainable industry to become a national reality?  I think the latter, and I'd rather see the Big 3 fall as a prelude to some more comprehensive reform than watch the Rust Belt absorb the benefits.  I understand the other perspective, but I'm in for bigger change than the bailout provides.

        •  Great Comment (0+ / 0-)

          I agree that the pro-bailout side is getting hysterical here after an equally hysterical anti-bailout period.

          I love the idea of giving the management to the union/workers and putting the industry to work delivering value to the American economy rather than dicking around financing gimmicks and shoddy products.

    •  Thanks to my union I get eye care (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      carolkay, sodalis, jds1978, kyril, AuroraDawn

      and dental, as well as regular medical.
      And my husband gets free glasses too - his job's health insurance (non union) does not cover him for glasses.

      Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing racism, sexism,homophobism,ageism and ethnocentrism.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:46:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes. I saw that a-hole Romney (19+ / 0-)

    talking this very line of crap today, stressing 'cost cutting' etc-- if only we'd let them make the same gas guzzling cars with cheap labor everything will be fine.

    There is such a compulsion on the part of the political community and the political media community to create a steel cage match. ~ David Axelrod

    by hhex65 on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:05:56 AM PST

  •  ambivalent on this as the solution (12+ / 0-)

    People seem to misunderstand bankruptcy as automatic liquidation. Most bankruptcies, especially of large companies, aren't---there's a reason you can still fly on Delta planes, even though the company went bankrupt. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a specific process set up to allow insolvent companies protection from their creditors in order to undergo a judicially supervised restructuring.

    Clearly these companies are nearing insolvency, and need some sort of restructuring. What I haven't figured out is why Chapter 11 restructuring isn't a valid option. Maybe there's something about GM and Ford that's different from Delta, but I haven't gotten a good handle on what.

    In particular, I'm worried that a bailout will mainly end up benefiting the bondholders and owners. One of the restructuring steps that happens most often in a bankruptcy is to force creditors to accept less than 100% of what they're owed, and dilute or wipe out shareholders/owners in order to raise new capital. Is the bailout just a way of avoiding that, so Cerberus Capital Partners gets to keep its stake?

    "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

    by Delirium on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:13:13 AM PST

    •  Unlike the airline industry (23+ / 0-)

      car companies that go into bankruptcy suffer since people are less likely to buy a car from them if they think that repair parts might not be available in 7 years. Airlines offer a product for next week or next month, not seven years from now. Thus you cannot compare care companies and airline carriers. But you can compare Boeing/Airbus to GM/Ford/Chrysler.

      "Sneezes are like porn to god" <- The Amazing Atheist

      by yuriwho on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:28:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Chapter 11 MYTH (26+ / 0-)

      How many times do we have to go over this.  People will buy a $500 airline ticket that lasts for 7 days from an airline in B/X but they are not going to buy a $30K-40K auto that they expect to use for 7-10 years from an auto company that is in B/X.

      Even if GM filed for Chapter 11 who exactly is going to provide Debtor In Possession financing?  Creditworthy companies are having a hard time finding financing so who exactly would be provide the DIP financing?  The Chapter 11 MYTH for GM also ignores the sheer scale of a GM bankruptcy.  In good times it would be debatable if a company the size of GM could acquire sufficient DIP financing in a Chapter 11, whereas in the current environment it is a complete non-starter.

      There is no Chapter 11 option for GM.  A Chapter 11 for GM in today's conditions will automatically convert to a Chapter 7 liquidation.  The Chapter 11 option for GM is an academic theoretical debate that is divorced from reality.  It is also the favorite talking point of the free-market ideologues whose real goal is to break the UAW.  Unfortunately the uniformed media just takes these right-wing talking points and repeats them as if they are viable and then a large swath of the public swallow it whole.

      •  why would they buy one *now* then? (6+ / 0-)

        I don't really buy the first argument... if people aren't going to buy a car that they expect to use for 7-10 years from a company in Chap. 11, why would they buy a car they expect to use for 7-10 years from a company that's already clearly insolvent? If you're equating buying a car from GM to making a 10-year bet on GM, that's already a bet no sane person would make right now.

        "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

        by Delirium on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:44:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Look At Their Revenues (11+ / 0-)

          People have stopped buying autos and some of that probably is related to the concern about future viability.  But lots of people don't follow the financial news in any great detail.  Put GM in bankruptcy and that is an event that everyone and their uncle is going to hear about and that will dry up whatever opportunity there is start selling vehicles again.  

          •  People that want to buy new cars - Can't (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            stiela, LordMike, yuriwho, AJ in Camden

            They can't get financing. GM won't lend to anyone with a credit score less than 720. Banks are curtailing lending on new cars because at the price of the vehicles the typical loan to pay those off is 60 months (a decade or so ago it was 3 years). Banks seriously consider that someone may not be able to remain employed for 5 straight years in this economy.

            That is why sales are down. It is why sales will continue to decline. The unemployment rate is going to grow not shrink. The latest release project that unemployment won't come back down to last month's rate of 6.5 percent until late 2011. That's 3 years.

            •  Wanna know what is really weird? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I'm unemployed currently, and about to start a new business. I have been inundated with credit offers in the last 2 weeks after almost 2 years with very few offers. It's crazy, I've been offered 30K pre-approved> I already hold that level of credit. It's nuts.

              "Sneezes are like porn to god" <- The Amazing Atheist

              by yuriwho on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:51:48 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Pre-approved (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                'pre-approved' doesn't mean much. i get these too. out of curiosity i phone to see what happens and they don't approve the credit. i'm still getting offers from washington mutual. it's just paper and psychological games. people still feel credit is available, but it actually isn't.

                •  You really shouldn't do this (0+ / 0-)

                  Even if it is just out of curiosity, if the credit agencies even get a whiff of you trying to get additional credit, even if these were pre-approved offers and especially when you then get declined, it will adversely impact your FICO score. This will be on your record for anywhere between 7 and 11 years.

              •  Yeah, that is surprising (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Don't know why that is. Credit Cards are almost exclusively securitized by private investors. It wasn't always this way but that is part of the financial mess we are in today that I won't get into. But in October not one single bundle of credit card accounts was sold to private investors. Banks don't want to hold these things so they are going to stop opening accounts - and closing and writing off as many as they can.

        •  Not just GM cars - foreign cars not selling (15+ / 0-)

          Yesterday's NY Times business section had a picture of LA port with a huge parking lot full of cars.

          Seems to me that as a society we have enough cars for now.  It's sad that we need to produce cars not because we need them, but because we need jobs, meaning people need money to live.  On a finite planet, seems like there has to be a better way.  Less production and consumption are good things from a climate/environment standpoint.  

          •  hardcore ecology/sustainability, here to say... (10+ / 0-)

            We need to convert over to a sustainable transport infrastructure.  But part of that solution is replacing the most inefficient motor vehicles with high-efficiency models.  We still need to do that and we need companies to build them.

            The bailout has potential to be the turning point from the mindless SUV craze to a more mindful way of thinking about motor vehicles and the uses of them.  

            But the biggest thing we could do about this particular problem is to switch all office-type workers to telecommuting.  Speaking from experience here, telephone systems engineer, 25 years' in the industry, and developed some telecommuter stuff that's presently available worldwide: this is EASY to do, there is no excuse not to.

            But even so, we still need cars that will do 90 mpg or plug into the wall, and we still need a carbon-clean energy system to power the latter.   And I'd rather buy one made by American union labor.  

            •  In 1986 I attended a lecture by David Suzuki (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek, littlezen, addisnana

              about how we needed to start placing value on the environment. He said capitalism is on a collision course with the earth and the only way to make capitalism compatible with earth is to place reasonable long term values on the environment.

              He plucked my heartstrings that day as a young University student, and he's still correct today 20+ years later. Sad that it takes melting ice caps before people listen to these ideas.

              "Sneezes are like porn to god" <- The Amazing Atheist

              by yuriwho on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:48:41 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes and yes, with you all the way. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I recall reading something he wrote or otherwise being exposed to his ideas (the name & ideas are familiar).  Would have been nice to get a chance to see him in person & ask some questions.  Lucky you:-)

                •  At the time his lecture was about the James Bay (0+ / 0-)

                  project up in Canada, the huge hydroelectric project that involved flooding millions of acres of land. But that was just the hot political topic that drew the crowd. His message was timeless. It was my first ever philosophy class and I didn't even know it ;-)

                  "Sneezes are like porn to god" <- The Amazing Atheist

                  by yuriwho on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:58:07 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

      •  If government can give bailout, (6+ / 0-)

        can they arrange or guarantee debtor in possession financing?  Also, I can imagine bankruptcy being a serious marketing problem, maybe fatal, but wouldn't a trustee want to make sure service and parts were maintained and couldn't that assurance be advertised?    

        You seem to know quite a bit about Chapter 11, whereas I know nothing, so sorry if these questions don't make sense.

        Would Chapter 11 result in the unions and pensions being busted?  That I could see and seem to recall that happening with other companies in Chapter 11, at least as to pensions.

        •  Treasury as the DIP (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stiela, LordMike, yuriwho, VincaMajor

          You are right when you say that the government can provide the DIP financing if GM goes into a Chapter 11.  The US Treasury is the only entity out there that can do that as far as I'm concerned.  But look at what that means.  The Government won't give the Big Three bridge financing as going concerns but they will give them DIP financing if they go into bankruptcy.  That's just another way of saying that the government wants to facilitate breaking the UAW.  I don't think a Democratic congress will allow that to take place an if it does I will lose faith in the Democratic Party and what it stands for.

          A government sponsored Chapter 11 bankruptcy would have an even worse impact on future sales.  Not only would GM have the stigma of being bankrupt but the public would view it as government run bankrupt company.  That almost ensures that nobody will be walking around the lots of a GM dealer anytime soon.  

      •  The lender of last resort: US.. (0+ / 0-)

        IF we back warranties with the full faith and credit of the USG, and we're the DIP, we may get back SOMETHING..

        You're right, if we're not the lender, I don't know anyone who would be.. In this economy..

      •  They're not buying them now... (0+ / 0-)

        It's about the product.  If they had a good product, people will buy it regardless of whether they're in bankruptcy or not.

        •  link (0+ / 0-)

          if you can find that study that says that I'd appreciate it, cuz otherwise it sounds like you're talking out your ass.

          I'm going to put this into NASCAR language so you understand: All you have to do is turn left. So why do you keep turning right? -Dick V. Electric 6

          by Stomp 442 on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 06:31:28 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Look at other companies on Chapter 11 (0+ / 0-)

            Many of these companies are able to reorganize and continue to sell their products.  You have no proof that no one will buy a car from a Chapter 11 car company.  There is a lot of proof that other companies still compete under protection, therefore I believe the evidence points to the car companies being able to survive.  The fact is, they're not selling cars now.  Keeping them alive and rewarding their inefficiency is simply more of the same.  Detroit needs change.

            •  well. (0+ / 0-)

              which large manufacturing companies in highly competitive fields in which quality, warranties, regular maintenance and repair are key and the purchase of which is the second largest bill in most people's households have not been hurt by chapter 11?  You think people will pick the chapter 11 companies over the non in this environment?

              And.  Again.  Chapter 11 = death of the middle class.  This will be the end of the UAW.  This will be re-re negotiated manufacturing agreements.  This will mean everyone, on the line down, will make less money tomorrow than they do today.  And possible the death of manufacturing in America as we know it.

              And.  Again.  This current crisis.  This current cash strapped auto market for everyone, is a direct result of the failure of the financial market.  When credit is already hard to come by, with the stock market tanking, people are NOT BUYING CARS.  Production is being reduced drastically.
              I'm not saying they weren't in trouble before (although, again, Ford was making money before this hit) but every automaker has been shifting away from SUV's and pick ups and towards smaller and more fuel efficient cars.  Which is why the 2009 Chevy Malibu and 2009 Ford Fusion get better gas mileage than the 2009 Honda Fit.
              And Again.  This is so they can pay the bills.  This is so suppliers get paid for products already delivered.  

              I'm going to put this into NASCAR language so you understand: All you have to do is turn left. So why do you keep turning right? -Dick V. Electric 6

              by Stomp 442 on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 12:39:17 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Manufacturing reality (0+ / 0-)

                Chapter 11 is not the death of the middle class.  Instead it will save the middle class by letting the companies retool and protect the taxpayers from forever throwing money at Detroit that can't survive in any sort of environment if the gas prices increase.

                The UAW will also not disappear.  Protections for collective bargaining are written into the bankruptcy code.  This is one reason why Obama's team is leaning towards bankruptcy.

                If Detroit fails, though, and it will happen at some point at this rate, whether we throw money at them or not, not only will the managers not have jobs, but the UAW will disappear.

                You think people will pick the chapter 11 companies over the non in this environment?

                People still prefer a Camry over a Malibu and they haven't declared any sort of bankruptcy yet.  Detroit is failing   People aren't buying from anyone at the moment, though.  Detroit is just feeling it worse because of their obligations.

                but every automaker has been shifting away from SUV's and pick ups and towards smaller and more fuel efficient cars.  

                Smaller than SUVs, yes, but I wouldn't necessarily say smaller cars.  The Camry and similar foreign cars have some girth and a nice size that Americans prefer.

                I think the root of this is that Detroit can no longer deliver cheap cars with the costs they have to pay in face of competition.  Consider the steal industry years ago.  They could no longer compete and shut down yet the mills that did continue retooled and now produce highly advanced steal.  Unless we completely shut our borders and the world does the same (last time this happened it set off the Great Depression) Detroit must recognize comparative advantage.  Detroit can't even survive with the plethora of tariffs and advantages it already receives so if they eliminate the status quo and advance into the future, when the economy stabilizes, they'll be able to sell machines people will want to buy (probably highly-specialized and advanced machines).

                 This is so they can pay the bills.  This is so suppliers get paid for products already delivered.  

                This only prolongs the inevitable.  Detroit is going to fail now or it's going to fail later.  The later it gets, the more it's going to hurt the middle class. Chapter 11 will Detroit retool now, not take tax funds away from the middle class to support their failure, and suppliers will still get paid through the reorganization.  But they might not get paid as much as they wanted, because they will also have to take a hit.   Surely you're not advocating we continuously throw money at Detroit just so they don't fail and continue to keep a relic of a manufacturing age that our comparative advantage cannot sustain?

                The companies that rise from the ashes will also need to employ people.

    •  GM's internal memo... (11+ / 0-)

      expects their sales to plummet 80% if they file Chapter 11.  

      Cars are durable goods requiring warranty repairs and service. Nobody would buy a car without knowing how long the warranty claims would be paid, or how long parts would be available.

      •  Yr ago bought Mitsuibshi great offer on Sebring (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Internet research showed Sebring was being discontinued.  Also much of Mitsubishi was in the Chrysler cars and engines.  More research showed that customer satisfaction was by far and I mean far higher for the Mitsubishi than the Chrysler.

        And that was just for starters.

    •  Daewoo tried this... (4+ / 0-)

      ...didn't work... liquidated in 6 months... GM bought most of their assets, ironically!

      It profits a PUMA nothing to give their soul for the whole world... but for McCain? --Sir Thomas More (if he were here now)

      by LordMike on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:21:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You answered your own question: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yuriwho, Norm DePlume

      One of the restructuring steps that happens most often in a bankruptcy is to force creditors to accept less than 100% of what they're owed

      This is exactly what bankruptcy would do. Under chapter 11, wages and salaries are guaranteed but creditors are forced to negotiate the value of the debts. That means that parts suppliers, and the industries that support them, might also be forced into chapter 11 reorganization because they won't receive all the money that's already owed to them.

      My biggest fear about the repub obstructionism on this is that they're trying to oust the unions. Every time I hear Shelby talk about "overhauling the manufacturing model," my first thought is "he wants to kick the unions out." (BTW, Bernie Sanders thinks so, too).

  •  finally the voice of reason (33+ / 0-)

    Thank you for this.  Coming from a Michigan family with 3 generations of UAW auto industry workers, I was aghast at the mean spirited apathy among progressives to the American auto workers.  I understand Republicans are union-busting, out-sourcing SOB's, but to hear this trash talk coming from progressives was a shock to me.

    Your diary pointed out what should have been obvious to us all. Bush and the Republican party are punishing Michigan for its loyalty to the unions and the Democratic party, as well as anticipating a collaspe on Obama's watch which they can use for the next campaign.  Who lost Michigan will be their cry, just like for years they cried "Who lost China".

    You need to tell this to the pompous assholes in the Senate as well.

    •  The "pompous assholes" make a fraction (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      exsimo2, spookthesunset, pennington

      of what the CEOs of car companies make, and they are understandably a little cranky about being asked to give taxpayer money to a bunch of chumps who had to fly in on private jets, "for security reasons."  And most Americans don't have pensions.  And union jobs have great salaries, and great benefits, and often aren't even remotely competitive.  And we're being asked to subsidize this?  Where is my freaking pension?

      "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false, about hope."

      by DrJeremy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:29:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're being asked to keep millions in jobs (17+ / 0-)

        all over the USA. Being pissed off about a few CEOs enough to miss this is very short-sighted.

        Since I've read your "coporate lawyer" post already, I understand that you think people w/ more education should make more money than people w/ high schol diplomas. Guess what, they do! If you seriously believe otherwise, get real.

        The point here is, let say this industry fails w/ it's uneducated much more are the lawyer/doctor types going to complain when you have 2-3 million more unemployed? In short, you will pay far more later.

        As someone who appreciates both education and labor, I say this view of yours is short-sighted and rather petty. Neither the law or medical profession is on the line here. Where will these auto workers go if they no longer have an industry?

        •  I have always wondered this: (0+ / 0-)

          why do people who support the bailout assume all auto workers that have their jobs now will keep them? Are you really thinking that this bailout will prevent the Big 3 from having more layoffs?

          The Big 3 couldn't use their own money wisely. What makes you think they will use the bailout money properly?

          "So long as they don't get violent, I want to let everyone say what they wish, for I myself have always said exactly what pleased me." - Albert Einstein

          by kingyouth on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 11:51:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  this isn't about (0+ / 0-)

            saving the companies in the long term or even job security.  This is about paying the bills and keeping the lights on.  This is to prevent to collapse of the auto industry.

            I'm going to put this into NASCAR language so you understand: All you have to do is turn left. So why do you keep turning right? -Dick V. Electric 6

            by Stomp 442 on Fri Nov 21, 2008 at 07:19:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  They weren't cranky to AIG? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Norm DePlume, North Country Dem

        Did any of them ask if the AIG execs came in a private jet?  I bet all of them did, but, they were treated like royalty on the hill.

        The big 3, like garbage....  why?  the big 3 employee real people in real jobs... that's something no congresscritter can relate to...

        It profits a PUMA nothing to give their soul for the whole world... but for McCain? --Sir Thomas More (if he were here now)

        by LordMike on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:49:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why don't (3+ / 0-)

        more Americans have good paying jobs and benefits?  Again, I see this race to the bottom time and time again.  Assigning value to a job because someone, somewhere will do the same thing for less.  That's great.  There are doctors in India that will work for less than doctors here.  I'm an engineer, and I can guarentee that there are foreign engineers that would do my job for less than I make. Great.  Cut my pay.  At the same time cost for necessities (like education, housing, food) continues to go up.  I don't know what the "true value" of any particular line of work is.  I do know that if you let the least common denominator define it, the sprial will continue downwards.  I think the foundation of a solid middle class in this country is very important, and it is not going to be done with the service industry alone.  The "prosperity" of the last decade, and maybe even the nineties was built largely on credit as far as I can tell.  Even the tech bubble was driven by speculation in companies that produced nothing.  It popped.  The housing bubble popped.  Now people around the world are holding empty pieces of paper that represent the so-called "wealth" that was created during these times.  Sorry to ramble, but it's very frustrating to see the attacks leveled at this industry, most of which are completely off-base.  Discussion of these loans are warranted, but amount of inaccuracy I've seen bantered about lately 9not necessarily here) is mind-numbing.

      •  Indeed where is my pension? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        North Country Dem

        If Americans weren't so brainwashed into the anti-union mind set maybe unions would be more widespread and successful and we'd share in better pay, working conditions, and livable retirements. We have been brainwashed to believe blue collar workers aren't as 'smart' as white collar workers so they deserve less. The only thing this has done is to decrease the possibility for workers across the board, blue or white, to make a decent living. Competitiveness of wages... If we are going to base pay on that, then we are going to be eliminating minimum wage all together.

    •  Believe it or not, Reid understands this (26+ / 0-)

      That's why he canceled the vote.

      It doesn't mean there will be no action to help the auto industry.  It means he has to kick the CEOs in the teeth for the arrogance they have displayed.  He has to get them coming back on their knees.  They're treating Congress the same way they've always treated unions.

      It also means he knows that a vote right now would lead to affirmative defeat of any aid package.

      He has to bring around both the industry in one direction and his colleagues in another before it will be possible to pass an aid package.

      He must also be thinking that surely there has to be a better way to keep this industry alive than to deliver $25B straight into the hands of the guys who drove this thing full speed over the cliff, all the while self-righteously preaching that they were "building the cars Americans want to buy," and that consumers know better than "government pin-heads" what vehicles meet their needs.  (How about survival, guys?  Is that a need?  How about parts and service?  How about a vehicle where they don't have to decide between their mortgage payment and a tank of gas?)

      I remember sitting in a meeting with a Ford VP, some kind of department head, and a number of minions.  We were talking about software solutions.  Ford had made up its mind to go one way.  A consulting firm they had hired had recommended another way.  The VP and his minions were getting a big laugh out of how the consultants "thought they had a better idea."  (Remember back when the slogan was "Ford has a better idea"?)  Well, the consultants were right.  Ford was wrong.  The consultants had the better idea.  But guess whose idea ended up prevailing?

      So yeah, I hear you on the arrogance.  And I'm convinced Harry does, too.

      Obama must be asking a lot of people if saving these companies is really the best way not merely to save the region but to restore it to high employment and economic vitality.  Would FDR give these companies the money?  Or would he come up with a truly transformational idea for restoring the region to high employment and economic vitality?  Because it's workers and townships we want to rescue, not the shareholder/enablers who are almost as guilty as the management.  Anybody who can work on an auto assembly line can work on other kinds of technologically comparable assembly lines.  It's not like Bush's suggestion one time that laid-off industrial workers "go get some training" and become healthcare workers or even doctors.

      I don't doubt Obama's understanding of the problem, his commitment to the region, or his ability to get support from the Senate on this.  But it's not a problem that has to be solved today.  Very soon, yes.  But that house isn't going to burn down this week.

      Hey, Wolf. DailyKos is the Best Political Team on the planet.

      by Alden on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:05:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  excellent points! everyone tip the comment above (6+ / 0-)

        (Not this comment, Alden's comment above this one.)

        Alden, you're 100% right on target there.

        Reid is a smart guy and he knows what's coming in January, and what the chances will be at that point.  He may very well have a plan in mind that he can't talk about while Bush is still anywhere near the Oval Office.  

        Let's be thoughtful about this and give him & our other folks in DC the kind of feedback that will help him bring about a real solution, rather than a quick bandaid.  

        Start those emails and phone calls ASAP...

      •  I figure that Reid is going to let the stock... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alden, miamiboats, jds1978, Floande tank for little awhile to get Bush's attention... then return with a stronger hand... but, this is Reid, and he's an idiot, so I can't assume he's doing something bright...

        It profits a PUMA nothing to give their soul for the whole world... but for McCain? --Sir Thomas More (if he were here now)

        by LordMike on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:51:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Amen! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alden, North Country Dem

        I think we do have a Battle of Assholes here.  Clueless/Criminal Detroit executives in one corner, Union-Busting GOoPers in the other.  Caught in the crossfire: workers, municipalities, the environment, the taxpayer, the consumer....  I don't know what Reid's angle is, but like you I see no harm in letting these bozos claw each others' eyes out for a while.  Haste makes bad policy, and that goes for the Big 3 bailout as well as for the absurd financial bailout.

    •  Union busting is high priority for the (8+ / 0-)


  •   It's 9/11 again but this time Bush is the (12+ / 0-)

    terrorist. The unions and the car industry are the towers.

    ""If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." JAMES MADISON

    by isabvella on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:32:25 AM PST

  •  Note that the intentionally (10+ / 0-)

    overbroad language written into the EESA means TARP funds should be easy to redirect into equity warrants in at least GM and Ford (and likely Chrysler as well).  Assuming Paulson doesn't burn through all 700 billion before January 20 (which is very unlikely), there will be plenty of cash in TARP to rescue the auto industry without any new legislation.

    And if anyone tells you it's a violation of the spirit of TARP, ask them whether or not GMAC or Ford Credit are financial institutions.  And if they say no, laugh at them.

    Yes, Santa Claus, there is a Virginia. And it went Democratic.

    by Anarchofascist on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:35:10 AM PST

    •  yes, but the problem is that the bill (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brian Bell

      gives Hank Paulson sole authority to determine who is and is not a "financial institution".

      Understandably, he doesn't want to share with the car companies.

      So a new bill will have to be written for this.

      •  So Paulson says GMAC isn't a financial (6+ / 0-)

        institution.  Unless he burns through the rest of TARP in two months, most of which are slow trading days, Geithner or Summers or whoever will be able to do it.

        Note that Paulson has burned through a lot less than 200 billion and allocated less than 300 billion.  And that in a heavy trading period of almost two months.

        Yes, Santa Claus, there is a Virginia. And it went Democratic.

        by Anarchofascist on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:43:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, he doesn't... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Dodd and Frank say that he can use TARP funds for the Auto industry... at the very least they could buy up commercial paper.

        It profits a PUMA nothing to give their soul for the whole world... but for McCain? --Sir Thomas More (if he were here now)

        by LordMike on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:52:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yes! (16+ / 0-)

    The free-marketeers who are willing to let all three auto-makers fail, who have an unholy alliance this time with some environmentalists, seem not to realize that we haven't yet reached the state where we'll be teleporting ourselves to work; somebody will be building cars for the forseeable future.

    And for all the talk about unions being the cause of this, along with corporate mismanagement, there seems to be little talk of the compromises unions have made in the past years (hourly pay rates going to $14 per hour), or the fact that letting the companies fail would be a victory for a right wing version of what labor should look like: no health benefits for workers, no pension plans, nothing. Just McJobs for everyone. That is what would happen if we let the automakers fail.

    Yes, management has been terrible, and they should be punished in some way. But the Big 3 should be saved, with many strings attached and major restructuring part of the process. And maybe if we manage to get some version of national health care passed like every other industrialized country, these companies won't have to spend so much money there.

    If we can save investment banks, we can save thousands of middle class jobs.

    •  i have your teleportation here, but we still need (5+ / 0-)

      to save the automakers.

      Teleportation:  telecommuting.  Anyone who works in an office and spends their day on a computer and a phone, can do exactly the same from home.  Telephone systems engineer here, 25 years in the field, and I developed one of the feature packages that makes telecommuting possible.  It has been available worldwide since 2004.  There is exactly no excuse for not implementing full-on hardcore telecommuter policies, immediately.  

      However, telecommuting doesn't solve everything.  Nor will public transport become universally available across the US.  Thus we still need automobiles and trucks, and we need to build the most efficient models possible, and we need to do that right here with American union workers.

      •  Telecommuting isn't great (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've had jobs where I telecommuted, and I was able to be a hell of a lot more productive when I was in the office.

        It's great as a way of reducing congestion - encourage people to work from home two days a week - but IME it helps a lot to turn up in the office for much of the time.

        Paul Crowley aka "ciphergoth"

        by ciphergoth on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:22:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Strongly Disagree (0+ / 0-)

          Of course, it depends on the job, but I personally find the office a distraction most of the time, and I am my most productive when I can plough through my work without interruption.  Plus, I can save 1.5 hours a day on commute time where I can be productive instead of stuck in traffic.

          It does help to have interaction with colleagues, which is why I think the ideal situation is to have 1-2 days a week in the office and the rest of the week for telecommuting.

          •  Amen (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            1. I hate driving to work. I hate the traffic, the crankiness of other people, morning radio. I hate the onslaught of all that stimuli so soon after waking (see #2 below). Hell, I resent getting dressed, bathed and "presentable" in the morning on a regular schedule. And yes, I've been in therapy to address those issues.
            1. I have this thing called "Asperger's Syndrome." To make a long story short, in additiont o being hypersensitive to stimuli of all sorts, I have very little stamina for interpersonal workplace bullshit - the gossip, the politics, the pettiness, the interruptions, the overbearing supervisors, the whiney co-workers, the workplace bullies/prima donnas, etc. I get burned out by that very quickly, and I have an impossible time just ignoring it.

            I'm always far more productive when I don't have to concurrently deal with the reality of how badly most other people just suck and when I'm not being continuously assaulted by outside stimuli (including obnoxiously unnatural workplace lighting - I'm all for green living, but fluorescent lighting is sheer hell for us neuro-deviants. I will cling to my energy-wasteful incandescent lighting until my dying breath).

            My best jobs have been free-lance jobs (tutoring, copywriting) and shift work in a quiet workplace without a supervisor or many other co-workers present (like my evening library giga few years back). Unfortunately, I can't make a decent living that way, and there's no telecommuting jobs around here.

            "Your world's no wider than your hatred of his" - Elliott Smith

            by croyal on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 08:43:07 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe Obama can take some of the 300 B (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    still unused from the Wall Street bailout and use some of it (with strings attached) to bailout Big Auto?

    "Load up on guns, bring your friends, it's fun to lose and to pretend" Kurt Cobain-1991

    by Jeff Y on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 01:59:18 AM PST

  •  nice diary and commentsq (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, Newton Snookers

    we must help out this industry... for the workers.

    Barack Obama... More Cowbell

    by titotitotito on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:05:10 AM PST

  • what else does America make any more? (13+ / 0-)

    Hardly anything! For all the talk about lack of green product and/or CEOs, if this industry goes...what will America actually produce? I fully believe the industry can and will change to keep w/ the times, but that's only if there's an industry left to change.

    For me it's simple, if this industry is allowed to fail, we'll pretty much have killed off native manufacturing. Yes I know foreign companies have plants here in the States that hire Americans, but this is about America as a producing nation.

    I'm disturbed that Americans are so seemingly content to import almost everything or support international corporations in this manner. All this talk of "security" on the right and "fair trade" on the left seems to have fallen to the wayside here. If you want EITHER security or fair trade, exactly how is the loss of US industry and manufacturing going to bring either?

  •  'What will they think of us?' is crap (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    astronautagogo, G2geek

    eff that. You don't stop doing what's right because you're afraid of how your enemy will use it.

    That said, I go for a really tough requirement that the auto cos comply with tech and standards.

    This period following the denial of bailout cash is good-- they'll work harder now to sluff bloated middle management and kill the dumb models on the way to green cars.

    emerging research proven

    by bob zimway on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:29:14 AM PST

  •  One second after they lose, 'socially (10+ / 0-)

    acceptable' sociopaths will immediately start thinking about how they can win again. Sane humans will need some time to find their bearings, because they actually have (and feel) real human emotions. That is an evolutionary advantage sociopaths have over feeling humans. What the sociopaths don't possess--and this is the ultimate irony given that sociopaths are 'emotionally free' to live in the moment--is the ability to sense the current 'zeitgeist' of the feeling humans--because sociopaths can't feel anything!

    Right now, the zeitgeist is that we aren't going to take their shit anymore. They thrive on exploiting fear to maintain the status quo. The biggest loser of the past eight years is the status quo. Don't just passively bail out the auto industry, remake them into a kick ass American ingenuity machine that puts everyone else to shame. We have done it before. Neutralize the mediocrity police and make it happen again, Obama and Congress. Step into the void. It is not a bailout but a harnessing of the last, greatest manufacturing sector of the American worker. Make the Lunar Leap into the next automotive generation. Let's go from trailing, to leading. I am dead serious.

    •  Rec times 100. they are already trying to (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Zipper, Cat Whisperer, Kharafina

      find the story of shame and blame that will stick and allow them to begin agains and if that doesn't work there is martial law.  The idea that Paulson and cohorts threatened Congress with martial law still chaps me.

    •  excellent points! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Zipper, Kharafina

      I'm with you 100% on all of the above.

      And as for sociopaths, we need to systematically exclude them from positions of power.  That's another two or three diaries' worth of details on how to do that, but suffice for now it's a goal to aim for.  

      If nothing else, reducing the pay scale at the CEO & senior management level will discourage the worst of 'em, the ones with no work ethic unless they're paid thousands of dollars per hour.  

  •  Auto industry needs to (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stiela, exsimo2, G2geek, ChemBob

    come in for a soft landing.

    GM WILL eventually fail, the Albatross of stupidity of past actions (railing against CAFE, retirement benefits, crappy cars, etc.) will doom them.

    However, if GM "goes under" quickly, a bunch of retirees will suddenly need money and health insurance, which would cripple the US.

    Better to try to get them to bow out slowly.

    It is Shock Doctrine.  Create or allow big disasters that they can "save people from".

    What gets old to me is that so many people don't see it.

    I am reminded of the movie "The Incredibles", where the villain lets loose a machine to attack the city that only he can control/defeat. He does this so he can save the day and be a hero.  I never thought of this being like Republicans until just now.


    I will make a bargain with the Republicans. If they will stop telling lies about Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. -- Adlai Stevenson

    by DrWolfy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:35:02 AM PST

  •  Just for argument's sake (16+ / 0-)

    Let's say you fail to spend the $25B, and an estimated 3,000,000 people lose their jobs within the next 6 months.

    Just the government's cost of unemployment insurance will dwarf the $25B, and the lost revenue from the wages these people would have received will more than likely approach that $25B number.

    In essence, it is a terrible economic idea.

    Not to mention, the absolute defense need for heavy manufacturing in the US.  Who do they think built the material the Allies used for WW2, Toyota and VW?  An industrial nation needs industry, or else it can't properly train people for design, manufacturing, and maintenance positions.

    •  Amen...the security issue is an issue (8+ / 0-)

      I don't know why the right, so obsessed w/ "security" can't see the problem of handing over American industry wholesale as NOT being a problem. I'll never understand how they can't see these "free trade-free market" policies as being divorced from national security.

      As for the costs of this potential disaster, I don't even want to think about it....$25B is just a drop in the bucket.

      •  Because they don't care about security (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Just like they don't care about abortion, or illegal aliens.  They can't survive without fear, so they panic people over issues, and they totally fail to deliver on their promises so they can dredge them up again and again, every four (or two) years.

    •  yeah you're absolutely right about that. (7+ / 0-)

      If we ever need to gear up defense production again in a serious way: tanks, APCs, all the usual stuff on wheels that armies require, we will need those assembly lines.  

      Letting the automakers die virtually assures we will get caught with our butts hanging in the breeze the next time a serious war gets going.  

      Bush has already done enough harm to our military.  Enough is enough.  

    •  Here's a Ford plant during (8+ / 0-)



      Here's an Oldsmobile plant:


      Here's a Chrysler plant:


      Yes, Santa Claus, there is a Virginia. And it went Democratic.

      by Anarchofascist on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:10:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  For argument's sake (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Let's say you give the $25 billion. The 3 companies are bleeding a combined $10 billion a month. Even with the diminishing sales that are occurring after 6 months the companies are broke again and in exactly the same place they are today. The companies start dumping workers by the hundreds of thousands and eventually the whole 3 million are out of work anyway. Not only do we still have all of those unemployment costs but we are also in the hole for the $25 billion as well.

      All of the numbers work against them succeeding even with the $25 billion - not without going into bankruptcy.

      •  Disagree.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...their costs are diminishing over time, and sales are bound to improve when the economy does and financing becomes more available...  The key is getting over the hump of this financial crisis.... once there, the companies will be in good shape going forward.

        It profits a PUMA nothing to give their soul for the whole world... but for McCain? --Sir Thomas More (if he were here now)

        by LordMike on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:24:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  True (0+ / 0-)

          But the economy is no where near recovery. Unemployment is expect to rise more and more and won't return to last month's numbers - the worst in 10 years - until 2011. With those kind of job losses it isn't going to matter if financing becomes available or not. People won't be able to buy.

          This is a consumer-led recession. People have stopped buying because they can't afford anymore. They either can't get credit or they can't get any more credit or they can't afford any more credit. It doesn't matter which it is. Wages have not been keeping pace with prices i.e. the companies (no matter what business) have not been increasing wages and spreading the wealth. This is why we are in a deflationary recession as well which, in my opinion, equals a depression.

          So the only way for buying to pick up is if the prices of vehicles drop significantly - on the order of 20 percent. And that can't happen without the auto makers going under because that would mean they would be losing money on every vehicle produced.

      •  Do you think the big 2.5 want to fail? (0+ / 0-)

        Just remember that in 2006, GM was the biggest selling automaker on the planet.

        •  No I don't (0+ / 0-)

          But sales have dropped in number of cars sold month after month since at least July. People can't get financing for the vehicles. And it is a serious situation because with a car loan we are talking about collateralized debt with a lower potential loss even when talking about a zero down, zero percent financing arrangement. But no one is apparently willing to buy those in the securitization market. They only want 720+ borrowers in order to get AAA rated bundles and even those are having a hard time selling.

          The only way for sales to go up enough and in time to save them would be if the "recession" were to have already bottomed - and there is no indication that is happening. We already have the second straight week NEW claims for unemployment about 500,000. Worst in 16 years. The 4 week average has hit a 25 year low.

          Detroit can keep making all the cars they want but the potential buyer pool for those vehicles is getting smaller and smaller. Production isn't the problem. People have stopped buying almost anything that isn't an essential. Across the board. And it is tightening further.

          A car is the second highest cost purchase item in a person's lifetime - house would be highest. That would put it near the bottom of where people will be spending their money when the economy is in the crapper. That is the reality.

          There are more than 10 million people out of work right now - and that is just the official count (not the real count). That is 3 times the expected number of job losses if the auto makers all went Chapter 7. Everywhere else in America has been absolutely been getting crushed since 2005. That is the reality.

          And it is getting worse.

          •  That's 10 million total unemployed (0+ / 0-)

            and the delta is about 4 million, over an 8 year period.

            Now add 3 or more million in a few months.

            Imagine how that will hurt?

            Even if this will be a terrible year, I've seen estimates of roughly 10-11 million vehicles sold, vs. 16-18 for the last few years.  A serious decline, but that's still more than 60% of the total market.  And in general the losses are among the cheaper vehicles, not the more expensive.  They need to cut back seriously to survive, and they will.

            •  It doesn't really matter (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Brian B

              If consumers aren't buying you will end up with these companies in bankruptcy. The number of vehicles being sold this year is not enough to meet their costs of raw materials, labor, transportation, etc. That is why they have tapped their lines of credit, are floating government guaranteed short-term paper and still not getting anywhere. The number of vehicles that will sell next year will be lower. We aren't anywhere near an economic recovery as we haven't even come close to the bottom yet.

              The result will be that even with the $25 billion the big 3 will have to cut their workforce by a third just to have a chance to avoid going to bankruptcy. And it may even by 40 or more percent. I don't think they will be successful in avoiding it.

              The bottom line is you can't force consumers to buy new cars. It is the number one luxury they will do without in a down economy. We have been in a recession for a year - whether the government wants to declare it or not. It doesn't matter whether it is fair or not, or whether they are union jobs or not, they are going to be losing jobs by the hundreds of thousands within less than 6 months if they get the $25 billion.

              To give you an idea of the strength of the lack of demand in the automotive industry you need only look at Volvo and trucks. They had 29,000 orders in September of 2007. In September of 2008 they 155. That's it. That is the kind of demand destruction that is going on.

              When this recession drags on into 2010 the big 3 won't be making cars at all. The pensions and the retiree healthcare will be gone. Most of the jobs lost in the process will be gone forever. All of the scenarios I heard in the Senate hearings by the CEOs are based entirely on the recovery of the economy being at full steam come June. That is delusional. By that time we will be looking at an unemployment rate of 9 percent or even perhaps 10 percent.

  •  trust the rethugs yet? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChemBob, MichiganGirl, chrome327

    They're freakin' delirious. They gotta chance to destroy our unions - you know, that created the middle class?

    If only Americans had agonized over every detail of the candidate's history when deciding to vote for GWB as they did with Barack Obama.

    by lisastar on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:43:54 AM PST

  •  Well , the traditional media (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    astronautagogo, dss, spookthesunset, Losty

    is suffering. newspapers are losing circulation. Shoud they get a bailout? They're the fourth estate, after all.

    Airlines provide commerce, they need more money.

    Other manufactuers in the rust belt aren't doing well either.

    Liberal? Yeah, we're around here and we're proud. But it's not a liberal blog.- Daily kos FAQ I don't like hippie-types and Forrest Gump is my hero.

    by fireonice on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:44:44 AM PST

  •  I understand the point of this diary. (4+ / 0-)

    But at some point we have to care about good governance.  This preferential treatment towards domestic car producers (AGAINST foreign producers who also happen to produce a lot of cars here) is nothing but a waste of money!

    Government should not be involved in the auto-manufacturing business, just as it should not be involved in the insurance business with AIG!

    I know I sound like a Paultard but, come on, we need to care about good policy in the Democratic Party too!  Especially after an overwhelming mandate like this recent one...

  •  From the Ed Schultz show on Wednesday: (22+ / 0-)

    ES: The Republicans, why are they so much against this?  It's a commercial loan!

    JC: I'm telling you, you know it's almost as if we are going to punish all of the consuming public, we are going to punish all of the folks who are dependent upon jobs, just because we are angry with the managers.  But you know, Ed, I don't think that's what they are angry about.  I think that for some strange reason they feel that because Michigan and Indiana and Ohio and Wisconsin - these states - ah, well three of them - turned blue.  Two of them did.  And two of them were blue before.  But I really believe that all of this is about politics.  They just can't really get beyond politics.  They have politicized the justice department. They have politicized the department of agriculture, they have politicized consumer protection.  They politicized Wall Street. And here we are with all of this stuff spinning out here, all these crises.  And they are still locked in the political mode, rather than making some decisions that are good for this country.

    ES: So you think this is a get-back on Michigan and Ohio and Indiana for going blue?

    JC: That's exactly what I feel.  I really feel that.  And I think that the people of Ohio and Indiana ought to keep this in their minds as we go forward.  Because this is what it's all about.  These are political decisions being made by this White House rather than what's best for this country.

    ES:  House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, South Carolina, here on the Ed Schultz show.

    Yes, George Bush is a first-class frat boy prick right up until the very end.

    Country first!

    These comments from Rep. Clyburn have moved me from undecided on the auto industry bailout to strongly in favor.


    by JLFinch on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 02:53:49 AM PST

  •  Economic Atom bomb (6+ / 0-)

    that's what the no to the Bridge Loan is about, not a bailout.  Anyway, finally glad to see some alleged progressives change their mind.  I've been on this site and other alleged progressives sites and the overwhelming majority would like to see US auto industry fail.

    But, as LeftHandedMan pointed out this is class warfare against the UAW and the states in the midwest that went for Obama.  The UAW was very active in Ohio and Indiana this time and I'm sure helped Obama carry the day there.

  •  Seize the assets from the war profiteers (7+ / 0-)

    like Halliburton and Black Water, and give it to the auto industry.

    My heroes have the heart to live the life I want to live.

    by JLFinch on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:03:42 AM PST

  •  No comments on FDIC Bair's proposal... (2+ / 0-)

    to help over one million homeowners keep their homes, for a modest price tag of $25 billion. She thinks this is the real key to preventing an even deeper recession, and I agree with her.

    This also needs exposure.

  •  Thank you for this diary (8+ / 0-)

    and thanks to the other diarists who have written on this subject.  I am not nearly so eloquent but I live in SE MI and I can see what has happened so far and what will happen in the future if the auto industry goes bankrupt.  Was it honestly so awful for the Republicans when the unions were strong and the middle class had health benefits and disposable income?  How is it better now that people are homeless, downtowns are abandoned store fronts, and people are dying because they don't have health care?
    I don't think Republicans understand what they are going to actually achieve with their agenda.

    •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      people who aren't supporting this bail out are very short sighted.

      Many of my family and friends in Detroit are crushed by this.

      There are alot of us out here that support the auto industry and will be hurt by this.  My healthcare alone has doubled over the last year to +600 per month (my employer does not pay).

      Is that what we want for ourselves?  Don't we want something better?  Well until we figure out how to do that we need to support our brothers and sisters and all of the people they create down stream jobs for.  

      I DO NOT want to be unemployed.  Think about the construction/mortage industry.  I have lots of friends laid off from those industries.  Who is going to support all of these people - you guys who will still have jobs?  how can your tax dollar support all of this stuff.

      We need to END the war in IRAQ immediately, it doesn't mean we don't have a miliary industry (hey my brother works for them in Detroit) but we could at least do something to change our system of healthcare.

  •  Do any of us really think $25B is gonna do it? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cardinal96, davidkc, kingyouth, JCombs, Losty

    I don't. Like someone said upthread, it'll delay the inevitable for a couple months. In which case, why not let them fail NOW, before Obama gets into office?

    If they go through the bankruptcy process they might even come out on the other side. And if they don't, what then?

    Why not take that $25B and put it toward developing NEW auto businesses, ones that are built green from the start?

    The diarist has many great, thoughtful points, but I've been around the block a time or two on my big wheel. In the last 40 years or so, how many times have we bailed out one of the Big 3? How many times has one of them almost gone under? And still we have crappy, low-mileage cars.

    Maybe it's time to let the "free market" do its work and do it NOW instead of prolonging the inevitable and essentially taking on the blame ourselves.

    •  I agree that we should let these businesses fail (0+ / 0-)

      and, to address your green requirement, correct for externalities of an automobile culture by levying a carbon tax.

      25b into an unsustainable business model with a miserable labor situation is NOT going to be the optimal investment for the public good.  A better idea for these funds would be some good old Keynesian investment in infrastructure (internet, education, public transit?)

    •  Once (7+ / 0-)

      In the last 40 years or so, how many times have we bailed out one of the Big 3?

      We did it once and that was the 1979 bailout of Chrysler.  Consisted of $1.5B of federal loans.  Chrysler paid off the package early and the US Treasury made a profit of over $300M.  In the process it preserved lots of good paying jobs for 4 decades.  

      •  Perhaps "bailout" isn't the most accurate (0+ / 0-)

        word. The gov't has helped Detroit in many instances since 1979. However, given that part of the 1979 bailout was SPECIFICALLY to make lower mpg cars, why do have to do that all over again?? They DID make higher mpg cars for years...decades even...and then they just...stopped. Most of us could see this current oil crisis coming more than 3 years ago and yet STILL the big three were pushing big ass SUV's and crap like the 14 mpg Dodge Charger (w/Hemi, which is, btw, one fucking sweet ride, nonetheless...)

        Why throw good money after bad?? What guarantees do we have that they lower the MPG on their cars and KEEP THEM LOWERED?

        I own an American car, a 1997 Dodge Intrepid (with the special extra big engines they put in cop cars). It's seen much better days but it STILL gets around 27 mpg. Three years ago I shopped for another car and there was NOTHING comparable being offered by any of the Big 3. I couldn't afford a Honda or Toyota with comparable amenities so I hung onto to it. But that experience made me totally disgusted with American auto makers...they deserve what they get.

    •  Yes, $25 will do just fine.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chrome327's more than enough, actually.  Once fall comes around again, the companies will be out of the cash burn as people buy some more cars, and in 2010, most of GM's expenses go off the books...

      The financial crisis along with high gas prices were a perfect storm that came one year too early for GM.  Had this happened in 2009, it would have been ok.

      It profits a PUMA nothing to give their soul for the whole world... but for McCain? --Sir Thomas More (if he were here now)

      by LordMike on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:13:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bailout but with lots of strings (6+ / 0-)

    In my dreams, I'd make the big 3 worker owned.  But that's not likely to happen.


    1. Go green.
    1. No lobbying permitted for XXXX years.
    1. No bonuses for execs
    1. Ceiling on top pay

    seem like a good start

  •  Top exec pay should be a max of (7+ / 0-)

    Average MPG of cars sold times lowest worker pay.

  •  I sympathize with the diarists sentiment but (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cardinal96, dss, davidkc, yg17, washunate

    I'm still against the auto bailout. The US auto industry has given us ZERO evidence or reason to believe that they will catch up with the 21st century, let alone make forward-thinking, more eco-friendly autos. They have willingly been making nothing but cassette walkman's in an ipod world and are suprised why they are failing....
    I honestly think a bailout will just make a small temporary change, but not the big overhaul long term change on making better quality, MUCH more eco-friendly products that consumers & the planet, needs.

    "It's always nice to meet a young conservative. Someone who is filled with hope that nothing will change in the future." -Cobert

    by astronautagogo on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 03:45:16 AM PST

    •  That's an (0+ / 0-)

      extremely oversimplified point of view.  These companies built trucks because people were buying trucks.  Lots of them.  If you want high mileage cars, some kind of gas tax should have been implemented to drive it.  Car companies are not going to build cars that people won't buy.  The avearage fuel economy of the US fleet of cars is not much worse than that of the Japanese.  Even Toyota builds trucks to sell in the US, and they sell lots of them.

      Allowing this industry to collapse along with the millions of jobs that could be lost because of it will do nothing to help us build a sustainable (environmentally) economy.  That costs money also.  The new vehicles are in the pipeline, it just takes time to get them out.  I don't agree with all of the moves the US makers have made, but allowing them to die would be devastating, in my opinion.  They got the message, and are working to change their fleet.

      •  The US market may be buying trucks (0+ / 0-)

        But they aren't buying US cars. Their corrupt relationship with big oil has kept competitive advancements stagnated.
        Yeah, cause US consumers don't wanna buy eco-friendly cars with better gas milage these kidding me? Prius's and models of the like have been on back order for how long now?! What are you talking about?
        Screw 'em, let them fail, it's the only way they'll learn. The US auto industry is already showing the signs of playin the same old games, except this time with BILLIONS of our tax dollars. They are already reluctant and trying to weasel their way out of any miles per gallon & emissions standards.

        "It's always nice to meet a young conservative. Someone who is filled with hope that nothing will change in the future." -Cobert

        by astronautagogo on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:32:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Inky99, I was planning on writing a diary (10+ / 0-)

    myself on this but will add the following reasons why allowing the auto companies to fail is a really bad idea and does appear to be 'shock doctrine' tactics.

    The arguments are as follows

    1. National Security

    See Retired General Wesley Clarks article in yesterday's NYT here

    In a little more than a year, the Army has procured and fielded in Iraq more than a thousand so-called mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles. The lives of hundreds of soldiers and marines have been saved, and their tasks made more achievable, by the efforts of the American automotive industry. And unlike in World War II, America didn’t have to divert much civilian capacity to meet these military needs. Without a vigorous automotive sector, those needs could not have been quickly met.

    One only has to look back at the history of the auto industry to recognize its capacity for re-inventing itself is best met in times of crisis.

    General Motors produced vast quantities of armaments, vehicles, and aircraft during World War II for both Allied and Axis customers.

    So what happens if this manufacturing capacity is destroyed now and the US (God forbid) finds itself in a conflict with someone whom it imports vehicles from or who sides with the other party?

    "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

    by Unenergy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:01:19 AM PST

    •  2. Economic resilience (6+ / 0-)

      Before you write these guys off just have a look at where their facilities are and how many communities will be devastated if they fail:

      It is not just the American car manufacturers feeling the pinch of the credit crisis.

      To understand that a little bit of the right sort of assistance right now is the correct course of action comparing Ford, GM and Chrysler up against a 1975 start up such as Hyundai Motors of Korea, may also be a sensible proposition before discounting any form of government intervention.

      To stimulate economic growth, the South Korean government formulated a detailed plan for the development and manufacture of Korean cars by 1975.  Four Korean companies: Hyundai, Daewoo, Kia, and SSangyong accepted the challenge.  Hyundai submitting a plan for a new plant with a capacity of 80,000 Korean designed cars to be produced each year.  Hyundai approached 26 firms in five countries to acquire the additional technologies required.

      Sales reached 419,000 in the U.S. in 2004, up an astounding 360% since 1998.  With the exception of a temporary slowdown in sales in the home Korean market, Hyundai sales are booming around the globe.  Sales increased 21% in Europe for 2004 and Hyundai held a 17% share of the automotive market in India making it the largest foreign car company.  Perhaps more surprising: in China's hotly contested emerging car market, Hyundai's joint venture with Beijing Automotive increased sales 62% for 2005 representing 233,688 cars. Growth came mostly from the Elantra model, the mainstay of Beijing's taxi fleet and the mainland's second best selling sedan after China's own Xiali.  The company aims to boost production and sales by about 30 percent in 2006 to 300,000 units. Targets call for China production capacity of 600,000 units by 2008.    Hyundai is the number one brand in the growing Russian economy.  Sales there increased 72.5 percent in 2005 representing 87,457 automobiles.  With a compounded annual revenue growth of 20% over the past five years, Hyundai has been the world's fastest-growing major automaker since 1999, according to Lehman Bros.  Even Toyota vice chairman Fujio acknowledged the company that is growing in Toyota's rearview mirror. "Hyundai has quality and prices that have caught customers' attention, not to mention ours," he said at an auto conference in August 2005.
      So if the South Koreans succeeded and made it through the economic crisis by assisting their auto industry, then why cant the US?

      Then there are the jobs.
      According to wikipedia General Motors directly employs 284,000 people, Ford 327,531, Chrysler 72,000.

      The difference between this industry and say a bank, is indirect employment figures

      "We'd have a disaster," said Nyloncraft's President and CEO Jim Krzyzewski. "GM will go out of business. They can't survive. And there's probably 2 million or 2.5 million people involved in the auto industry. For every line worker at GM or Ford, there's five other indirect jobs that depend on that position."

      And it is worldwide that the fallout will be felt as well as the US.

      Ford Motor Company has manufacturing facilities in 23 countries on six continents. See Map

      GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 35 countries. Map of global operations

      You just dont crash these type of industries and expect them to start up again with a different name. It doesn't work that way as the business model is too complex to build from the ground up. It takes decades to build up these businesses.

      "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

      by Unenergy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:25:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  3. This will destroy NASCAR Racing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      U.S. auto sales have plummeted in recent months, and Ford and General Motors, along with Chrysler, are fighting for survival amid the crisis. The three Detroit manufacturers — along with recent addition Toyota — are the cornerstones of NASCAR.

      Although it may not mean much to some people, it will to many others who follow this sport.

      "In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

      by Unenergy on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:36:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  NASCAR is a billion dollar business (0+ / 0-)

        in the Carolinas.

        Loss of sponsorship is already putting the big hurt on NASCAR. Bankruptcy of GM will make NASCAR's problems much worse.

        NASCAR  is but one of many businesses that depends on a healthy US auto industry.

        "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 05:20:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not to mention technology (0+ / 0-)

          Ford Racing and Ford consumer engineering share technology, even started swapping out engineers for two year stints.  One can assume it is similar with the other 3 manufacturers in the sport. NASCAR engines are wildly resilient under extreme conditions, and the manufacturers are constantly tweaking the bodies of cars for maximum downforce to reduce drag. It can only help to pass that technology to consumers.

          We are all droogie6655321

          by Buckeye BattleCry on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 06:13:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Just so you know (0+ / 0-)

      they still produce these vehicles.

      They retro fit hummers and suvs for the military.

  •  Thank you... (6+ / 0-)

    ...I can't sleep this whole thing is making me so sick...  and the people on here who scream, "Who killed the electric car... let the Michiganders die!!!" just make it worse...  The author of that film has apologized for being so harsh on GM, and really is bullish on them in his followup to the movie, but it seems that few liberals are willing to go along...

    The "did you fly in a private jet" thing hurt democrats very much, yesterday.... since it was asked by a couple of liberals who must have felt so proud of themselves... except in Michigan, I'm sure it will be perceived as democrats derailing the aid they so desperately needed...  Overall, the political damage will probably be minimal, hopefully.  It's  pretty clear that democrats are doing what they can to help the rust belt, while republicans can't help but being overjoyed at our plight.  Still, we have a lot of liberals giving aid and comfort to the GOP, and if they play it right, the GOP might be able to both destroy good paying union jobs AND benefit politically from it, too.... It would be ironic, but not the first time it would happen.

    Unless the GOP finds a way to make hay of the smartass democratic congressmen's questions, I don't think that the political situation is as bad as you say.  This happened under Bush's watch, and he hasn't lifted a finger to help.  Michigan news is 24/7 GM and they aren't making the republicans look very good.  Even if the GOP has a massive change of heart, that state is lost for a generation...  Indiana will stay blue as so much of it will be economically devastated.  Ohio as well.

    But, that's in the short term.  Long term favors the Republicans in this scenario.  Prolonged impoverishment always does... The Unions help our side counter the natural tendency of the working class to revert to "god and guns", but they won't be there anymore...  And many folk will be moving out of state, lowering our numbers in the electoral college and in congress...  Long term, letting the big 3 die and the rust belt states along with it is a great strategy for them, although I think that will even backfire... Our party is built differently now, and is more flexible.  Our coalitions are stronger, and we can weather the storm....

    But, better that we don't...  the key is allowing GM to survive until January 20th.... after that, the work is easy.  Getting past the summer is all the Big 3 need, and they will be back in the saddle again after that...  Let's give them that chance!

    Thank you so much for writing this... now, I can go back and get some much needed sleep... People outside of the rust belt simply don't understand what is at stake here...  I've been trying to make them understand, but maybe a little political fear and pragmatism is just what the dr. ordered...

    $25 billion is 2 months in Iraq... none of the GOP is complaining about that sinkhole...  it's cheap in comparison to that boondoggle!

    It profits a PUMA nothing to give their soul for the whole world... but for McCain? --Sir Thomas More (if he were here now)

    by LordMike on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:09:45 AM PST

  •  Krugman was on Rachel's show last nite (13+ / 0-)

    And said if the auto industry is allowed to file Chapter 11, then it will never recover. He said the economy is in such horrible shape that it would make it impossible.

    Thus, according to Krugman, it would be an irrevocable decision to allow them to fail and they'd never come back.

    I agree with him and the diarist; there's a reason ol' Mitt and the AM radio maniacs want GM to fail... If that's what it takes to make Democrats fail, then it's OK with them because they're all about "party first, country last".

    Obama's right; we shouldn't allow this industry to go down the crapper. The Big 3 execs should all be summarily shit-canned but those millions of workers didn't do anything wrong.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Thu Nov 20, 2008 at 04:14:07 AM PST