Monday, December 15, 2008

Thanks for nothing, senators

Author and Free Press columnist Mitch Albom wrote a response to the senators who killed the auto loan deal last week and it's generating a lot of attention here in Michigan. (It's been recommended more than 1,000 times so far.) He pretty much expresses the collective outrage most of us have been feeling since Friday, starting with the title - Hey, you senators: Thanks for nothing.

Here's a sample of what Albom had to say. Click over to read the rest.
Kill the car, kill the country. History will show that when America was on its knees, a handful of lawmakers tried to cut off its feet. And blame the workers. How suddenly did the workers — a small percentage of a car’s cost — become justification for crushing an industry?

And when did Detroit become the symbol of economic dysfunction? Are you kidding? Have you looked in the mirror lately, Washington?

In a world where banks hemorrhaged trillions in a high-priced gamble called credit derivative swaps that YOU failed to regulate, how on earth do WE need to be punished? In a bailout era where you shoveled billions, with no demands, to banks and financial firms, why do WE need to be schooled on how to run a business?

Who is more dysfunctional in business than YOU? Who blows more money? Who wastes more trillions on favors, payback and pork?

At least in the auto industry, if folks don’t like what you make, they don’t have to buy it. In government, even your worst mistakes, we have to live with.
Ain't that the truth. Remember Iraq, senators? That was supposed to be cheap, and quick too. The only thing cheap about that mistake was the way you tried to cut corners and save money at the expense of our troops. From inadequate bullet proof vests and armored trucks to the horrid conditions at Walter Reed Hospital, you turned your backs on the soldiers just like you turned your back on middle-class jobs last week.

And don't try to sell us the idea that your vote was designed to protect taxpayer money. The same day the Free Press ran Albom's column, they also ran one by Susan Tompor describing the financially struggling Pension Benefit Guarantee Board, who may also find themselves needing a bailout. Allowing the Big 3 to fail would only add to the problem according to one expert:
He said that the PBGC could inherit more than $100 billion of pension obligations if Ford or GM filed for bankruptcy and the pension funds were turned over to the agency.
That $14-25 billion bridge loan is chump change by comparison. Add in unemployment compensation, increased Medicaid spending, the loss of tax revenues, etc., and that loan looks like a better deal by the moment.

Adding another 2-3 million people to the ranks of the unemployed is a huge mistake too. Obama wants to pass a stimulus package pushing $1 trillion dollars in order to create 2.5 million jobs, which won't even replace the jobs lost under the Bush administration. How does killing even more jobs help? Washington might as well double that package to $2 trillion if the Big 3 go down.

Thanks for nothing, senators. Do me a favor and take Albom's advice.
You’re so fond of the foreign model, why don’t you do what Japanese ministers do when they screw up the country’s finances?

They cut their salaries.

Or they resign in shame.
In order to resign in shame, these senators would have to feel some shame first. And in order to feel shame they would have to care. They don't.


abi said...

I wish all Americans would feel as deeply about this issue as you do, Kathy. But I think too many Americans have been hoodwinked into believing that unions are a bad thing.

As for resigning in shame, that will never happen in America, where personal responsibility is only for the little guy.

Kathy said...

Abi, I think you're right about American's perceptions of unions, but that's because people aren't paying attention. The middle-class workers with the best health care and secure retirements belong to unions. Meanwhile, the politicians from state levels on up to Washington make out like bandits because they get to vote on their own fate.