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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 10, 2008 at 2:52 PM

Auto-industry bailout

David Zalubowski / The Associated Press

Unsold 2009 Ranger pickup trucks sit at a Ford dealership in Frederick, Dacono, Colo.

The answer is:


Editor, The Times:

Congress lends $15 billion to the auto industry, which must repay the loans plus interest. This is to “protect taxpayers.”

But who will repay that $15 billion plus interest? Car buyers. And who are the car buyers? Taxpayers.

Money paid to the government reduces net income, new product investment, salaries and the price of auto stock. And who are the workers and stockholders? Taxpayers.

Because politicians have little business sense, they think companies are like the government, which creates dollars from thin air.

Companies must pay from margins.

Taxpayers won’t pay for the loan. No extra taxes are levied. In fact, taxes will be cut. But taxpayers will pay for the higher price of cars and the lower profits when the auto companies are forced to repay the government.

What should the government do to protect taxpayers? Give the money to the auto companies, and don’t ask for interest.

— Rodger Mitchell, Wilmette, Ill.

Stop being cheap

For 20 years, American consumers told the auto industry they wanted gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs — the bigger the better [“GM to lay off 2,000 more workers at 3 factories,” Business, Dec. 5].

Recently Former Vice President Al Gore started to cry that the sky is falling and the oil industry raised the price of its product to $140 a barrel. Driving a Hummer or Escalade now is an economical and environmentally unforgivable sin.

Walk out to the middle of any freeway overpass and witness the river of Hyundais and Kias.

Americans now want little cars but are too cheap to pay the extra few grand it costs for American-built vehicles. The U.S. auto industry is failing because we choose to let it.

We cry about the economy but refuse to buy American products. It is up to each and every one of us to make an effort to put down the cheap imported knock-off and invest our money in products made by our own country.

— Gene Davis, Lake Forest Park

No more media gotchas

So the Big Three auto executives are reduced to driving from Detroit, Mich., to Washington, D.C. What a frivolous and wasteful pander to a showboating Congress, pathetic media pundits and a clueless public.

If auto executives can’t say no to stupid media gotchas, how are they going to say no to thousands of redundant white-collar and union workers?

If Congress won’t acknowledge their terrible transportation-policy mistakes over the past few decades, how can we have confidence in anything it does?

Congress has thrown almost $2 trillion at financial paper shufflers without interviewing a single banker.

Why grill auto executives for a much smaller amount and not the bankers?

And if the various media outlets won’t investigate serious questions, how can the public be expected to know anything?

The Big Three could have added a private car to the Amtrak Capital Limited. With a relaxed overnight and conference time in the morning, they could then walk to the nearby hearings.

Now that would be a transportation alternative.

— Wilson Geegh, Bellevue

You don’t even know

Recently, Sens. Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Barney Frank and others seem to be taking delight in ripping the CEOs from GM, Ford and Chrysler for incompetence, mismanagement and high salaries.

The CEOs have made mistakes, but no more than the politicians who govern our country. These same politicians have wasted hundreds of billions of taxpayers dollars with lard in legislative bills.

But they don’t have the responsibilities of the CEOs.

These CEOs try to keep hundreds of thousands of workers employed, bring innovative products to market and also try to sell American products abroad to bring revenue into the U.S. Their total responsibilities are huge.

Dodd should heed his own words to move on, as he has suggested for the CEOs. And as for Schumer’s remarks that he doesn’t trust the CEOs, I can say I don’t trust him, let alone 99 percent of politicians.

I have yet to hear a word from the politicians about the high salaries of pro sports athletes or entertainers, who make millions and don’t contribute at all. Nor do they bring innovative products to the market.

If the politicians want to let the auto companies sink, let them declare bankruptcy and let’s see what happens. I don’t think any of the politicians could even hold a supervisory position with the auto companies.

— Karl Wahl, Bellevue

Who’s going

to watch over Congress?

Just as Congress wants oversight of the Big Three automakers, it seems time for American taxpayers to have more direct oversight of Congress for similar reasons. This thought comes after reading yet another story about “earmarks,” which help specific states and companies at the expense of the country [“Earmark helps businesses, not troops,” Nation & World, Dec. 7].

Some results of lobbying of members of Congress by special interests has been lack of oversight with Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, “earmarks” that benefit specific companies/states, and/or personal or party benefits (campaign funding, etc.).

It’s time for some changes.

Here are some suggestions for members of Congress: Serve terms no longer than a president; receive a livable wage with any raise tied to the fiscal well-being of the country; receive the same health-care choices as the working class; receive reduced retirement pay, as the working class does; and be a part of the Social Security system.

The option to continue “as is” seems unreasonable. Nothing will change unless you contact your elected folks in “the other Washington” and let them know you are dissatisfied with the status quo.

— Jim Davison, Waitsburg

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