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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 17, 2008 at 4:00 PM

Tough economy

Tim Isbell / Biloxi Sun Herald / MCT

Coupon hunting is becoming more and more popular as the economy keeps heading south.

There is hope

Editor, The Times:

It boggles the mind to consider the possibility that life exist on “earthlike” planets deep in space [“Fuzzy photos raise hopes of finding another ‘Earth’,” Times, Nation & World, Nov. 14].

In light of this possibility, all craft departing for remote corners of the universe should display a simple message: “Anything Help$ — God Bless.”

— Michael Darling, Burien

And they all fall down

Increasing AIG [American International Group] largesse from $85 billion to $150 billion provides evidence the bailout produces deception without solution. Terms enabling lending or investing, allows management, labor and government leaders to fabricate temporary shelters from market forces and voters.

Now car companies and states also queue up for bailouts.

Government institutions nationalizing private-sector firms feed addictions to power, equivalent to individual addictions to chemicals or pornography. Individuals exchange personal freedom for perception of material security, but only postpone the looming reckoning.

Proper government involvement means the Federal Reserve, in concert with Treasury and Justice, apply persuasion to private-sector firms. Brutal persuasion enables private companies to discover programs for market-clearing asset prices. They also form new companies absent flagging management and labor attributes.

Whatever financial cost the country must pay now to adhere to principle pales before the later cost incurred, if markets are forced to merely postpone consequences. True solutions reaffirm the inevitability of market forces countermanding human laws and incorporating risk within all economic activities.

Our Constitution says this country will promote the general welfare. It did not say the treasury secretary would ensure protection of home values, college funds, retirement accounts, life savings, homeownership, corporate wealth, political careers and union benefits.

— Nolan Nelson, Eugene, Ore.

Blame the union

I want to voice my complete disgust in regard to any plan to bailout GM that does not nullify the existing and onerous UAW [United Auto Worker] contracts. If the automakers are the backbone of American manufacturing, then the UAW is what broke that backbone. Let them take major pay cuts for the way they drove GM and the rest of the Big Three into the ground with lavish benefits, pensions and hourly-pay packages that were obscene and drove jobs and market share to lower-cost foreign competitors. Our Big Three can’t even produce a car people want to buy when times are good, and they have had 30 years to figure that one out.

They build SUVs and pickups because they can’t make enough to support the union largesse building economy cars. That’s the major reason they are stuck in this rut.

Let UAW workers make equivalent compensation to what Toyota and Honda pay American workers who produce better cars for far less money, and those workers are thrilled to have those jobs.

How can the Japanese build factories here, use American workers and still build vastly superior autos without UAW labor? Because the UAW is the key to the problem. There is no shortage of laborers who will accept less than the princely wages the UAW has extorted and who will do a far better job.

Don’t let the UAW stick U.S. taxpayers with their bloated pension costs. I don’t get a pension and resent Congress trying to stick me with that bill to curry favor for union voters.

There is only one way to make GM financially viable again, and that is to nullify those UAW contracts.

–Mark Kraus, Orting

Don’t let them go down

I feel qualified to weigh in on the bailout for the Big Three automakers [“Questionable Bailout of America’s Big Three,” editorial, Nov. 14]. I worked for a year for Ford Motor Company as an electrician apprentice in the mid-1960s in Dearborn, Mich. I also worked as an auto mechanic, or tech, for several Volvo dealers, and was the owner of a Volvo repair garage for seven years. My career in auto repair spanned 30 years. I drag-raced Ford cars for many years, as well.

We cannot let the big three go bankrupt. Here’s why: Who wants to buy a car from a company that might not be there tomorrow when you need a part? What might be the resale on such a vehicle?

Another reason to save the American auto industry is the “trickle-down” effect that will be felt once they go bankrupt. The smaller suppliers will see their main customers go away. They are also creditors of GM, Ford and Chrysler. They won’t get paid money owed them. Next come the independent repair shops that service these cars. Some parts are original equipment manufacturer (OEM) only, and only come from the Big Three. Independent garages will not be able to service cars that need those OEM parts. They could go out of business or lay off employees.

How about the current owners of the domestic cars? What if you own a Chevy that needs a new cruise-control switch, and you find no one else but GM makes it? One day, even the bone yards will not even have a decent used one to sell you.

And lastly, do you think the retirees from those companies will still get full pensions, or could they wind up needing public assistance? Not only will current employees be without work, but they, and the companies themselves, won’t be paying taxes.

Yes, these companies produced gas-guzzling cars and trucks, but that was because there was a demand for them from the American public. How many reading this have a truck or SUV and really don’t need one? The Big Three make over $10,000 selling a truck to a dealer. They might make a tenth or fifth of that on a small car. Which would you manufacture and sell if you were running the company and had to account to shareholders? You (and they) can’t predict the future for the next minute, let alone the next decade.

Bail them out with government oversight. The U.S. needs to be part owner as an investor.

But we can’t, and shouldn’t, let them fail.

— Gary Silverstein, Olympia

Mmm, Spam

Couldn’t help a little private smile and chuckle when reading about Spam being the meat of hard times [“Hard times usually good for the makers of Spam,” Nation & World, Nov. 15].

A long time ago, when living in Hawaii where my late husband was born and raised, I found myself hopelessly bewildered one day while sitting at the table with him and several of his friends in a small restaurant.

One of the men had, among other things, what appeared to be an oversized sushi roll on his plate with something strange rolled up inside. I thought to myself, “didn’t he order Hawaiian filet mignon?”

The young man must have caught my startled expression, because he promptly explained that it was the “local name” for Spam.

While I, the newcomer, felt embarrassed for obviously staring like a dimwit, the rest of the people all had a good laugh.

As time passed, I found out that Spam isn’t half bad when used in a variety of “local” approaches.

So folks, if you want to save money and at the same time experience something a little different, prepare some oriental noodle soups like Top Ramen, wonton, ichiban or saimin, add some sliced green onions, a hard boiled egg and julienne Spam strips and, voilĂ .

For me it is an occasional change of taste and satisfies my sense of nostalgia.

Bon appetite.

— Ruth Quiban, Seattle

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