Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For an auto company bailout

I'll just make a quick point. I'm in favor of bailing out the auto industry. While it is true that the "big 3" have had major problems reading consumer demand and have been slow to respond to changing economic conditions, both of which have helped lead them to where they are today, the fact of the matter is that the consequences of allowing these companies to fail are simply too dire. The fallout would hit not only the UAW members and other folks employed by these companies, it would hit every industry that depends on the auto industry - car dealerships, repair shops, parts warehouses, auto supply stores, gas stations, tire manufacturers, car washes, and it would ripple outward from there. If the big 3 fail, the economic consequences would be devastating. We must not allow that to happen.

Now, I'm not saying that we should just hand the CEOs a blank check. I think that if we do bail out the big 3, we should do it in such a way that the American people get an equity stake equal to our initial outlay, along with some decision making power. We need to force the automakers to change what they do and how they do it - we can use our collective financial leverage to do that.

We also need to make sure that the auto workers are protected and have a stake in their jobs. I would therefore also suggest giving a tax credit to any auto worker who buys stock in their company. Doing so would begin to give the workers a greater stake in their jobs, and that can only help matters.

Thus, my solution is two-fold: partial nationalization along with a system to give workers at least partial ownership of the auto companies. It is my opinion that this two fold approach is the only way to fix the problems facing the auto industry.