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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 10, 2008 at 3:52 PM

Bailing out the auto industry

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Workers at a General Motors assembly plant make final adjustments to SUVs coming down the assembly line in Janesville, Wis. GM recently announced record losses and layoffs.

Suck it up, Detroit

Editor, The Times:

CEOs and others at the top of our dwindling number of automakers are now asking for a government handout, because they can’t sell those huge Hummers and SUVs they have been manufacturing [“Detroit automakers plead for more federal aid,” Times, Business, Nov. 7].

Guys, the writing has been on the wall for a decade. Former Vice President Al Gore and others have been telling us for years, that our present level of gasoline consumption is unsustainable, but did you change your ways? Design smaller vehicles? Try to beat CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards? No.

So who’s sorry now? I bet you voted for more of the same on Nov. 4. If you believe in the capitalist system, you should be ready to absorb losses as well as pocket profits. No one forced you to make those big gas-guzzling monsters. So suck it up, and don’t come crying to me for dollars out of my meager Social Security and IRA [Individual Retirement Account].

— Jean Wallace, Kirkland

Give and take

U.S. auto manufacturers are asking our government for bailout money to stay solvent, right?

Why don’t they ask the oil companies, which have recently posted record profits, for a loan. They can pay back the loan when they produce energy-efficient or electric cars — with interest, as you and I would be required to do.

The circle of life continues.

— Dave Cashin, Redmond

Deal with it

I have read with some consternation the ever-increasing amount of loans that the Detroit automakers are lobbying for from President-elect Barack Obama and Congress.

Perhaps Obama should consider the cause and consequences of meritocracy before handing out more taxpayers’ money to any of this threesome. Our automakers and their unions are the ones that myopically and self-servingly drove their companies into a ditch of hubris and self-indulgence. While management allocated no contingency investments toward gas-efficient vehicles in a world of decreasing oil per capita, the unions were striving to entrench and enrich themselves by making operations and processes outdated, inflexible and inefficient. Poor strategy and operational execution by management and union leaders finds our automakers bloated, imperfect and overcompensated.

Now they want a handout and should have to deal with the consequences. If the government is going to bridge them over to an unknown future, the management, employees and board of directors should first agree to take an across-the-board 20 percent cut in compensation and benefits while committing to a 20 percent reduction — free of union or management contracts or interference.

No partisan quid pro quo should be shown on this deal, if there is one.

— Harvey Gillis, Bellevue

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