Friday, December 12, 2008

A Michigander's Rant

I try to avoid politics and ranting here but what went down in Washington this week really has me ticked as a Michigander. So pardon me for standing up for my state here but I just have to do it.

The U.S. Senate this week through some silly procedural rule that I as a democratic majority rule kind of a guy don't understand killed off a plan to rescue the U.S. automakers. As I understand it, though a majority of senators favored the rescue loans, enough if-I-can't--have-my-way-I-won't-play lawmakers created a roadblock in their sandbox that could not be overcome.

What is the problem here? Did the U.S. automakers create the global recession that has auto sales plummeting worldwide? Did the Big Three create the housing mess that sapped all the available credit from our financial institutions? Did the UAW push for free trade laws that allowed our wealth and capital to be siphoned off to other countries?

I don't think so. So why punish Detroit? Especially after the government just bailed out big banks and Wall Street for over ten times what automakers asked for. Sure, Detroit isn't as tres chic as NYC with its trendy gourmet restaurants and latte coffeehouses. But we deserve to work, make money and eat too, even if it's just McDonalds.

Southern Republicans who are mainly responsible for now putting this country on the fast lane to financial ruin want the unions to shoulder the blame, saying it's their salaries that are to blame. How many millionaire union workers do you know? Now how many millionaire investment bankers, Wall Street moguls and fat cat CEOs do you think there are? Or senators? I think southern lawmakers are just piqued that they can't bring back slavery, so they're trying to do the next best thing and bring back slave wages for the average joe.

From what I hear, this anti-U.S. crusade is being led by some bumpkin senator from Alabama. Never cared much for that state anyway. The only Michigander I know who ever moved to Alabama was that traitorous former Michigan State football coach Nick Saban, who is now trying to rescue the once great football program at the University of Alabama (since I'm ranting, might as well get in a knock against my rival Michigan State).

Until a few weeks ago, I owned three cars representing the Big Three: a Chrysler mini-van, a Saturn Vue, and a 1983 Ford Thunderbird. Nope, won't buy Japanese or foreign. If the Big Three go under, I'll buy a horse before I buy a foreign car. So-called auto experts have been promoting the myth of Japanese superiority for some time. Let's see, my Chrysler mini-van that I bought used for $6,000 about seven years ago now has 195,000 miles on it. We drive it to work every day. I sold my 83 T-Bird in a day by putting an ad in the classic car classified section of my local paper. How many classic Hondas do you find at your local antique car show?

And my Saturn Vue is the luxury mainstay of my personal fleet. It gets better gas mileage than advertised, has power to spare, and drives like a charm in mid-winter Michigan. We bought this one as a replacement for our old Saturn which had over 150,000 miles on it, a milestone that a local Honda salesman claimed was impossible for a Saturn. Yes, I test drove a Honda CRV, shame on me, but we bought the Saturn Vue because it was cheaper and we liked it better anyway. So I don't buy into that myth of Japanese superiority which I think was just concocted to ease the guilty consciences of those responsible for putting Americans out of work by buying foreign cars.

Yes, my grandfather worked and retired from GM, as did my uncle and more recently my brother. And, yes, we do kid them about their health benefits and pensions. 'Generous Motors' as we sometimes refer to GM. But I worked one summer at a GM plant and the day I quit to go back to school was one of the happiest days of my life. The work was hot, tedious, and sometimes dangerous. I hated it. So I don't begrudge any auto worker their salary or benefits.

And if the automakers get their rescue loans, you won't see union workers celebrating with spa massages at a luxurious resort as happened when the fat cats at AIG got their multi-billion dollar windfall. No, the automakers will just be back on the line the next day, working hard, just happy to be able to support their family and contribute to the economy. That's the way we roll here in Michigan.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on Brother!

7:24 AM  
Blogger Carine said...

I personally love every word of your rant Dave.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I personally would not own an American made car....Since 1982 I've only owned Subaru's or Infiniti's. My present car is the '07 M-35.
HOWever, with that said, I agree with everything else you said here. I think it's unforgivable that the auto bailout is not going through. And for all the reasons you mentioned. If WE don't support those blue-collar workers, then who will. I got the feeling that the Republicans that voted against it were like the juveniles who didn't get their way and said, "I'm taking my ball and going home."
By the way....Alabama doesn't care in the least...heck no, isn't that where Honda is? Once again, the epitome of selfishness.
I still have hope that those rescue loans will come through for the automakers.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

As a close follower of events, I'm in your corner with most everything you said.

The AIG fiasco is probably the one that is the most egregious. The Treasury has practically handed them a blank check with little to no oversight. Where were the hearings on that one? Citibank? Where the hearings on that one?

I worry that we're just printing money left and right to get out of this mess. At what point does our currency wind up like that of the Weimar Republic?

11:29 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

ANONYMOUS (Enforcer)--Oh sure, right on brother here. But how come you never vote for my fantasy football team to win.

CARINE--Thanks, Carine. Had to get that off of my chest.

TERRI--I think the automakers will be able to hang on until Obama gets in. Maybe things will get better then.

FRED--Hmmmmm, maybe we should invest in gold then. Or maybe Euros.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Dave, I am not sure about the bailouts for any of the companies....Like Fred said, "Where were the hearings for the banks?". The Big Three have been in major debt for years. I think the AWU has too much control over the plants and the finances of the major car industries. I still think that the workers are making too much money....Now, that said: I believe that our government has done it's best to put the auto industry out of business with their quotas and certain restrictions.

TF owns a dodge truck and has for years.....Our daughter used to drive a Saturn and she loved it..That car got outstanding milage. I drive a Toyota and I like it. The Ford F150's are a great truck and my son in law drives one of those....

As far as the bailouts go: Too many of them. The big three want "loans"/bailouts and say that it will only last till next March? Then What? Give them more money? Something has to change to show that they can pay back the loans or do better business, actually make a profit. Several years ago TF and I were reading about the giant debt of the big three and wondered why something wasn't being done everyone is asking for bailouts. Sorry for my rant!

8:24 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Dave, I hope I didn't come on too strong, but it irks me to see so many people going after our taxpayer money. Hope your not mad at me....Last thing I want.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LUCY--Don't apologize, rants from all viewpoints are welcome here. Even anti-Wolverine rants, which I get occasionally.

What I'm worried about are other government entities now coming and asking for bailouts. California, New York and other states are reported getting in line for their own bail-out. I think everybody is getting bail-out fatigue.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

I say, "No more Bailouts!" Thanks Dave...

7:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2.5 million jobs depend on the auto industry. It has been said that 1 in 10 jobs is directly related to the automobile industry. From the plastics, steel and glass industry to the computer companies that build the chips inside every car, the effect of a big 3 collapse would be catastrophic. And that is not mentioning the National security threat it could impose. Who do you think built tanks and jeeps that got us through WWII? Toyota? The government will bailout companies like Citi, AIG and countless others that have implored bad business practices. But will not give the auto-industry a temporary loan to get through the recession the bank and mortgage companies caused?

I understand that taxpayers don't want to be giving anymore handouts but the big 3 aren't asking for anything that won't be given to another bank or credit card company as soon as they face bankruptcy. And besides they are asking for a percentage of the 700 billion already approved so that money is going to be handed out anyway. They should give it to a company that employs millions of hard working middle class people and that actually builds something.

Yeah Ranting!!

9:00 AM  
Blogger Babette said...

Anti-Wolverine rants? Where can I sign up?

Find your inner SPARTAN and drive a chariot. What, you were thinking tractor?

10:15 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LUCY--No more bailouts; I hear you.

ANONYMOUS--My thoughts exactly. I hear Bush okayed bridge loans just today. I hope that will do it.

BABETTE--What do you mean, "Where do I sign up?" I peg you as a recruiter of these anti-Wolverine types. Chariots are a double no-no; they're linked to Spartans and to Trojans, whom I as a Wolverine hate almost as much.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

OK Dave, TF found something for you. Check it out:

Lol...he he he!

3:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:22 PM  

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