Big Three: Meet the Free Market

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Michigan Republicans are said to be in a tizzy that their Republican president won't give any face time to Detroit automakers. The Big Three are facing "declining fortunes." Though the LA Times doesn't state it very directly, automakers are hungry and need a snack from the government trough. And they are increasingly disheartened that Bush wants to let market forces work their magic. I love the way Republicans worship at the altar of the free market when it means not raising the minimum wage or laying people off to keep stockholders happy. But when it means shutting off the corporate welfare tap, they're not so enamoured. When they need an infusion of capital, they rediscover the need for big government to meddle in their affairs.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos lashed out at the White House this week for not having set up a long-promised meeting with executives of the Big Three automakers, which are being squeezed by high healthcare costs and shrinking market share.

"We're being ignored here in Michigan by the White House, and it has got to stop," DeVos, who is challenging Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, told reporters.

"It is wrong, and the behavior is inexcusable," DeVos said in a written statement Thursday. "The president needs to meet with the Big Three, and it must happen soon. Jobs are at stake."

Yes, the President must "meet" with the Big Three because otherwise jobs will be lost. Let's rewind a bit and recall that it was less than two months ago that GM announced it was laying off a quarter of its work force. Well, let's be more specific: their blue collar work force. And let us also recall that a Wall Street Journal report at that time demonstrated amply and painfully that for all their whining about pension costs, the pension programs of their rank and file workers were in the black. It is, in fact, the pay packages to top-tier executives that are breaking the bank. But GM's solution wasn't laying off the executive millionaires who are draining their coffers. It was to fire the little guys whose pension plans were not only paying for themselves, but for the company's other losses. And now they want to go hat-in-hand to the federal government for more money so that they can continue to hand giant pay packages to top tier executives who make genius decisions like continuing to make gas guzzling behemoths that a public in full-blown gas pump sticker shock doesn't want and continue kicking their labor force to the curb when they inevitably face continuing short-falls.

Bush himself made clear in January that he was not inclined to bail out troubled U.S. auto companies.

For once I agree with him.