2008-12-04 / Letters to the Editor

Wake-up call

I would have expected a little more thought from the Heritage Foundation than I read in the guest opinion recently regarding "Bankruptcy, not bailout, for auto companies." First of all, ask yourself what fate the foreign auto companies would prefer to befall the big three. Bankruptcy, of course. This would increase their market share considerably due to the fact that people would rather not buy a car from a company in bankruptcy. Comparing the possible outcome of an auto bankruptcy to the airlines scenario is completely irrelevant. Airline passengers, for the most part, have no choice but to fly with a bankrupt company. Automobile buyers have complete freedom to buy from anyone.

It has not been the leadership of the car companies that has caused the crisis today. It has been government overregulation of the emissions, mileage and safety standards that has caused a big part of the problem, and let's not forget the failure of the credit market which, by the way, the government has to also answer for. The American cars are better today in every respect. They are as competitive as any in the world. Are there any suggestions as to who would provide better leadership in this time of crisis? I hope no names of politicians come to mind.

Without going into bankruptcy so far, the automakers have managed to hammer out better deals by closing unnecessary plants, trimming their workforces and reducing pay and benefits packages to bring them in line with those offered even by the Japanese. By every account, the competitive gap has all but been eliminated. All of the results of these moves may not be seen tomorrow but the current leadership has crafted exactly what the Heritage Foundation has suggested, without going into Chapter 11.

I agree that cooler heads have prevailed to allow the industry more time to make its case. I think this was done mainly to give the UAW leadership and rank and file a wake-up call. It was also a backlash for all the sweet deals and golden parachutes which permeate all sectors of American society both public and private. The auto companies happened to be in the gun sights that day but that is no reason to punish them with irresponsible and knee-jerk cries for bankruptcy. Ted Dobski Houghton Lake

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