Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nov. 18: Rescuing One American Icon and Saluting Another

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Who has the blame for the U.S. auto industry drowning? Try everyone.

That would include the politicians who spent the 1980s taking away energy and mileage standards for cars, the car executives who worried about today's bottom line and their bonuses instead of the future of their companies, and motorists who spent the 1990s and most of this decade buying polluting, gas-guzzling SUVs.

Now, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are asking to be part of the federal government's bailout package. Advocates have a point when they say the wipeout of the auto industry would do further damage to the economy. But those who say the companies need to start from scratch also have a point. The chances seem to be better that it will snow in South Florida this week than that Congress will approve $25 billion of the bailout money for the Big Three in its lame-duck session.

(Of course, Republican members of Congress who are now balking at giving money to the car companies weren't so particular when the workers they were bailing out were on Wall Street.)

The automakers had enough imagination to duck and dodge those who were trying to better their standards, both in carmaking and treatment of their employees. Here's one thought that they can find enough imagination to make it to January relatively intact. And when they do, that's when Congress should craft a well-thought out package that helps the auto industry survive - but holds them to specific standards on cars that are well-made and energy-efficient, as well as better treatment of industry workers.

The American auto industry practically invented U.S. industrial success in the 20th century. It needs to reinvent itself for the 21st.


Today, an American and world icon celebrates his 80th birthday. Here's a link to his greatest performance:


Happy Birthday, Mickey.

No comments: