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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 6, 2008 at 1:51 PM

Big Three auto bailout

Fail if they must

Dear senator/representative,

Do not bail out the auto companies.

Let them fail if they must.

Auto companies should look at Boeing as a model of reinvention and recovery over the years.

Hard times? Yes. Layoffs? Yes. Bailouts? No.

Build a product the customer wants to buy.

— John Derrig, Bellevue

This is no nuclear winter

The President-elect Barack Obama administration has a golden opportunity to reverse decades of denial and hubris in the U.S. auto industry, which has led to “nuclear winter” for auto sales [” ‘Nuclear winter’ for car dealers,” Nation & World, Dec. 2].

U.S. automakers have been ignoring all of the road signs since the OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] crisis of 1973 and now scramble to the taxpayers for a fat loan. What caught my eye was the comparison of this self-inflicted wounding of the auto industry to the apocalyptic blacking out of the sun in a nuclear war. Both events are or would be man-made.

The discord is in scale. Comparing a predictable meltdown in auto sales to the blacking out of the sun for weeks to months is something like comparing the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy to the Nazi Holocaust. We are talking about hugely different scales of human deceit and depravity.

Hopefully, the Obama administration will help the auto industry become competitive again with truly environmentally friendly vehicles based on renewable, nonfood fuel sources and help the American and worldwide public realize the dream of eliminating the weaponry that would cause nuclear winter.

— David Hall, Seattle

Put the money to good use

Instead of giving direct subsidies to auto manufacturers and financial institutions that have already proven that they don’t know how to run their businesses, the government should give down payments to purchasers of autos and make the interest on auto loans tax deductible. The amount of the down payment provided should be larger for the more-fuel-efficient vehicles. The government could help financial institutions by underwriting auto loans. This approach would address a number of issues:

The economy would get a boost because consumers would buy more automobiles; manufacturers who didn’t build the right vehicles would deservedly be allowed to fail; more energy-efficient autos would reduce dependence of foreign oil and reduce global warming, and financial institutions would benefit from the increase in auto loans.

While it may be simplistic, with some refinements this approach makes a lot more sense than handing over billions to people who have failed for years to make their business models successful and who give us no reason to believe those billions will create success.

— David Storm, Everett

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