I agree with Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press!

This article has been copied and pasted from this link, the website for the Detroit Free Press. You may read it at, http://www.freep.com/article/20081126/COL01/811260327/1082, and other articles at www.freep.com.


freep.com

November 26, 2008

If I had the floor at auto hearings

This column originally appeared in the Sunday Free Press.

OK. It’s a fantasy. But if I had five minutes in front of Congress last week, here’s what I would’ve said:

Good morning. First of all, before you ask, I flew commercial. Northwest Airlines. Had a bag of peanuts for breakfast. Of course, that’s Northwest, which just merged with Delta, a merger you, our government, approved — and one that, inevitably, will lead to big bonuses for their executives and higher costs for us. You seem to be OK with that kind of business.

Which makes me wonder why you’re so against our kind of business? The kind we do in Detroit. The kind that gets your fingernails dirty. The kind where people use hammers and drills, not keystrokes. The kind where you get paid for making something, not moving money around a board and skimming a percentage.

You’ve already given hundreds of billions to banking and finance companies — and hardly demanded anything. Yet you balk at the very idea of giving $25 billion to the Detroit Three. Heck, you shoveled that exact amount to Citigroup — $25 billion — just weeks ago, and that place is about to crumble anyhow.

Does the word "hypocrisy" ring a bell?

Protecting the home turf?

Sen. Richard Shelby. Yes. You. From Alabama. You’ve been awfully vocal. You called the Detroit Three’s leaders "failures." You said loans to them would be "wasted money." You said they should go bankrupt and "let the market work."

Why weren’t you equally vocal when your state handed out hundreds of millions in tax breaks to Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda and others to open plants there? Why not "let the market work"? Or is it better for Alabama if the Detroit Three fold so that the foreign companies — in your state — can produce more?

Way to think of the nation first, senator.

And you, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona. You told reporters: "There’s no reason to throw money at a problem that’s not going to get solved."

That’s funny, coming from such an avid supporter of the Iraq war. You’ve been gung ho on that for years. So how could you just sit there when, according to the New York Times, an Iraqi former chief investigator told Congress that $13 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds "had been lost to fraud, embezzlement, theft and waste" by the Iraqi government?

That’s 13 billion, senator. More than half of what the auto industry is asking for. Thirteen billion? Gone? Wasted?

Where was your "throwing money at a problem that’s not going to get solved" speech then?

Watching over the bankers?

And the rest of you lawmakers. The ones who insist the auto companies show you a plan before you help them. You’ve already handed over $150 billion of our tax money to AIG. How come you never demanded a plan from it? How come when AIG blew through its first $85 billion, you quickly gave it more? The car companies may be losing money, but they can explain it: They’re paying workers too much and selling cars for too little.

AIG lost hundred of billions in credit default swaps — which no one can explain and which make nothing, produce nothing, employ no one and are essentially bets on failure.

And you don’t demand a paragraph from it?

Look. Nobody is saying the auto business is healthy. Its unions need to adjust more. Its models and dealerships need to shrink. Its top executives have to downsize their own importance.

But this is a business that has been around for more than a century. And some of its problems are because of that, because people get used to certain wages, manufacturers get used to certain business models. It’s easy to point to foreign carmakers with tax breaks, no union costs and a cleaner slate — not to mention help from their home countries — and say "be more like them."

But if you let us die, you let our national spine collapse. America can’t be a country of lawyers and financial analysts. We have to manufacture. We need that infrastructure. We need those jobs. We need that security. Have you forgotten who built equipment during the world wars?

Besides, let’s be honest. When it comes to blowing budgets, being grossly inefficient and wallowing in debt, who’s better than Congress?

So who are you to lecture anyone on how to run a business?

Ask fair questions. Demand accountability. But knock it off with the holier-than-thou crap, OK? You got us into this mess with greed, a bad Fed policy and too little regulation. Don’t kick our tires to make yourselves look better.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com. Catch "The Mitch Albom Show" 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).

Click http://freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=PluckForum&plckForumPage=Forum&plckForumId=Cat%3a3d38d5ea-be26-42e1-b8c1-5c828cc9b4e3Forum%3acaf35b0e-429d-4fe0-a206-27e93663b99b&plckNumPerPage=200&plckCategoryCurrentPage=0" style="color:blue;">here if you would like to comment on Mitch Albom’s columns.


This is what I was just saying to my friend, the one who in one sentence was giving approval for the bank bailout and in another sentence scorning the Auto “Bail Out”.

It’s not a “Bail Out” if you have to pay it back, its a LOAN.

— Fizz —

© "Fizz" 2008

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About Fizz

*I'm a Northern Girl livin' in the South. *I graduated with a BS in Geophysics from Michigan Technological University (MTU). *I have critters: 2 dogs & 1 cat. *I love thunder and rain days. Too much sunshine gets on my nerves. (How I survive in Texas I do not know!) *I'm trying to remove swearing from my vocabulary (Good Luck!). *I'm the last single in my group of friends. The rest of the turn coats got married. *Sadly, the above friends are now procreating. Now the world will have yet more strange and twisted individuals that will have to go to an Engineering School to survive. *Yoopers do exist. Look on a map. *Marvin the Martian and I have a lot in common. We're both cranky when crossed and generally like our own way. *I will never be a model! (Thank god, that starvation stuff has GOT to be painful!!!). *I am not Fat! (Even though that little voice behind my right ear might tell me that every single day). *I am normal. Whatever that means! *Yes, you can be smart and not be a geek. *I've been told I'm not boring. We'll see. *Much to my irritation, I have been described as Eccentric. *I cannot spell! *Being Single is a frame of mind. *Who said life was fair?
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4 Responses to I agree with Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press!

  1. Ann says:

    Cooll! Best,Nan

    Like

  2. Beth says:

    I will just say ‘Amen.’

    Like

  3. Patricia says:

    Through all this, I’ve become a skeptic…I wonder if any of it will work…and if it doesn’t, what happens next?…

    Like

  4. Cynical says:

    Agreed. Maybe Detroit will have to back to making buggy whips while congress oversees the process. Finance and legalese was never intended to be understood. If it had been, people would have been a lot angrier a lot sooner. Good post.Peace, Doc

    Like

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