While I know Ford is the one U.S. automaker still in business without a government bailout (so far), I drove passed a once prosperous Ford dealership in the town south of where I live and its lot was empty. The owner/manager of the dealership not so long ago was praised by so many in the area for being a winning businessman. But I guess the economic downturn, coupled with higher gasoline prices and, worst of all, a shut off in credit from the financial system for car buyers ruined his business.
We were on a trip to the Sacramento area to see my oldest daughter and along the way I picked up a right-wing radio talk show I used to listen to, the host of which got his start on radio as some kind of business guru. He was sarcastically remarking about the take over of the government of the auto industry and was expressing bewilderment about how Chrysler is deciding which dealers stay open and which do not. While he did not say so himself, I think a caller questioned whether the dealership survival selections were being made on a political baisis. And I think the host kind of said that while he did not know about that, nonetheless something does not seem to pass the smell test.
With all the road noise in our foreign car and the fact my wife did not want to have the radio up loud enough where I could hear it anyway, I really did not catch all that was said and finally turned it off. But I am sure that I could sum it all up by saying that the host thinks whatever is being done is not right because it is being done by a Democratic administration. And I can safely assume he has no alternative, except keep the government out of the car business or business in general and lower his taxes.
Actually I totally agree with keeping the government out of the car business and who wants to pay higher taxes?
What I still have not heard, though, is an alternative solution to this economic mess from the Republican party, other than keep taxes low.
Besides the mantra of lower taxes, about the only thing the Republican Party seems to have been interested in for so many years now is regulating private behavior (abortion and gay lifestyle) and securing access to oil under the guise of the war on terror. Yes, 9/11 happened, but I don’t think that justifies everything afterward.
Back to the car thing, though, I am concerned that throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at the domestic auto industry is folly. I can only think that the Obama administration feels inclined to do this as payback to the autoworkers union vote and support and the fact that, yes, if the domestic auto companies shut down all at once there would be economic havoc because so much of the economy (we have all found out) depends upon the auto industry.
But there is no evidence or reason to think that artifically propping up General Motors and Chrysler will ensure their survival. There has to be a demand for their products, people have to have money to buy the products, and the companies have to be able to compete economically on the global market.
Government is not structured and is not meant for running businesses and making business decisions and figuring out what consumer demand is and how to capitalize on that demand. While President Obama has vowed that he does not want to run the auto industry it is already evident that the industry has to please the government. It cannot bite the hand that feeds it (even if the investment banks got away with that). One CEO has already been forced to resign.
No the Republicans actually are on to something if they complain that the government is trying to run business. But they have to come up with more than just noting that government and business should be separate. They need to come up with clear alternatives to get us all out of the economic doldrums. They need to address the fact headon that their own administration got us all deep into this mess and they need to explain why they think that in light of that fact they would be better qualified to get us out.
While I myself would be more inclined to support the notion that government does need to be a protector of the public welfare than your average Republican, I would also suggest that we have gone down the road to pure socialism and a state-run economy (something I see no evidence that shows it has ever worked anywhere) a lot quicker than I thought possible. But what I would have never predicted is that a Republican president who considered himself a pro-business conservative, George W. Bush, would have started the ball rolling on that.
On foreign policy, I think the Republicans are truly concerned that Obama actually might be on to something by extending the olive branch to the Muslim world, even as he vows to press ahead against extremists or terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan (and elesewhere I presume).
I see that actor John Voight during a Republican fundraiser last night ridiculed Obama’s speech to the Muslim world and its gracious gestures of understanding and willingness to make peace. Don’t recall his exact words but he said something to the effect that Obama thinks that we can push each other in swings like on a playground.
Voight accused obama of making the nation weaker.
For now I don’t see his point. Obama has put more troops into Afghanistan and just as importantly has clearly signaled that he is finished playing games with North Korea. I heard an analysis by Washington insider (for both Republican and Democratic administrations) David Gergen this morning that said the Clinton administration tried to buy North Korea off, the George W. Bush administration vowed to get tough but then reverted to trying to buy them off, and that the Obama administration has signaled that it will stand up to them and not buy them off.
Hezbollah (enemy of the U.S.) has lost elections in Lebanon and that nut case of a president in Iran is getting a run for his money in the upcoming election, and these situations appear right after Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world.
All the Republicans did for the past eight years or so was get the country bogged down in a costly and misdirected war in Iraq that sent oil prices skyrocketing which helped propel a world-wide economic collapse. Both Republicans and Democrats had supported measures that led to the wild real estate speculation that was the chief cause of that collapse.
Things may well get worse, which ironically might put the Republicans eventually back in the driver’s seat. But will they really know where to go?
Oh so many blogs ago I made reference to a GM/Fiat deal. I should have said Chrysler/Fiat deal. I subsequently corrected that blog, but if you read the original post — yeah I realized I was wrong — probably in the middle of the night.
But I still wonder why we go to so much trouble trying to save a domestic automaker for the benefit of a foreign enterprise (and a Chinese company is buying the Hummer brand?). But I do support keeping the work here if we can, no matter who owns the companies.
Still another Republican gripe: The Obama administration is pushing us into government health care and the government will be making health care decisions and not doctors and there will be long waits. Actually, the Obama administration has taken the approach of offering to co-exist with private health care while pushing for coverage for all who cannot afford it. The Republicans say that private health care will be run out of business by competition from the government and that is probably the real Democratic motive after all. I just read an opinion piece on the Wall Street Journal site written by a doctor originally from Canada. He said that in Canada and Great Britain and Sweeden and in other nations that have universal single payer health care that health care is not as good and the waits are longer and that in fact in Canada and elsewhere governments are moving toward public-private partnerhships. Well if that is what it takes to provide guarateed universal health care, so be it. The only people who do not think we need universal health care are those fortunate to have good private plans or possibly those already covered under some type of government assistance program. Meanwhile emegency rooms are overcrowded by people seeking normal and often non-emergency treatment because laws mandate that emergency rooms see people and millions go without health care because they either cannot afford private plans or they are not in on employer-sponsored plans because none is offered or they lost their job or they are on part-time and do not qualify. The fact that our leaders all these years have been unable and unwilling to take the lead on universal care is a national disgrace. One big problem is that too many are looking for free health care and there is no such thing. But certainly there has to be equitable and humanitarian health care.