Friday, November 14, 2008

GM Bailout?

Hey... I have an idea.

Extend Medicare to cover all GM employees.

You save the country and the industry from a bloody Labor-Management battle.

You effectively bail out GM by saving them from crushing health care costs for their employees. You remove the incentive to bust the Union or export jobs overseas. You turn one corporate giant against another.

If you borrow more money from China to bail them out, that money's going to go right into the healthcare industry. Fuck that.

The other car makers, and other corporations, are going to line up to be a part of this deal. The health insurance industry is killing us. The only way to stop them and get decent health care for all Americans is to turn the other industries against them.

I have another idea: Huge tax breaks for every electric car manufactured. GM and the other carmakers, including startups, can get huge tax savings, basically bailouts, by producing electric cars. You've got to produce the financial means for these major car makers to stop being pawns of the oil companies.

If GM and the US carmakers don't want to take your deal, you let them fail and let Tesla, Myers Motors, and Commuter Cars inc take the deal.

I have little sympathy for the American auto manufacturers. Most of the cars they produce don't sell. They make 20 different models each, all of which do basically the same thing, hoping to make one that's 'hot' and catches the fancy of your average car buyer. Instead of searching for new markets (hybrid, electric, etc) they merely hope that extending more and more credit to car buyers will help them to buy cars more often. They have a very inefficient strategy. If people can't get the credit, their whole scheme is over. If people were more like me, and avoided going into debt for a car that will lose 90% (or more) of it's value in 10 years, there would be no auto industry.

But if I could buy an electric car for $20,000 that would give me thousands in fuel savings, I might do it. I, like most people, drive less than 50 miles per day. It's astonishing that I simply cannot buy such a car today, though it would meet my needs perfectly. My only option is for a tiny, expensive vehicle from a boutique startup, or an equally expensive conversion. If GM was still making the EV-1, can you imagine how many would have sold when gas hit $4 a gallon? It probably would have saved their ass. The Government of California already tried to save their ass in the 90's and they said 'Fuck you'. Now they come asking for a handout and blaming the unions. Maybe we should tell them 'Fuck You' and give the money to Tesla.

I actually think unions can be problematic. They wield enormous power, and while they are great, and necessary, in order to prevent worker abuse, they can shoot themselves in the foot by handicapping their industry and by eliminating merit-based pay. In this way, they can encourage mediocrity. And I say this as a person who's grandfather was a union boss. It's a tricky business. In a way, a union wedges itself into a position of co-managing the corporation, and they've got to think that way.

And I think most of them do. But I think the expanding cost of health insurance has put a knife into Labor-Management relations in this country. And I think they ought to work together to remove that knife and repair relations. And I think the Government ought to encourage that.

Pipe dream, I know.


Blogger Andy said...

I know. Maybe it's not a pipe dream to have some sort of nationalized health care, which could alleviate many of these problems, nor to think that with a democratic government, we might get real incentives to go green, but then again, maybe it is.

9:16 AM  

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