Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today's Auto Bailout Update

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

Yesterday, the CEOs of the Big Three were on Capitol Hill, again. Begging for our tax dollars. Turns out they flew in, separately, on corporate jets. The question was:

You couldn't downgrade to first class? Or jet-pool?
It pretty much looks like the auto bailout is dead in the water. The CEOs were unable to answer simple questions like: How much money do you really need? What will you specifically use the money for? If we give you this money, will it be enough? How much will be?

Most damning of all was that Wagoner of GM, and Mulally of Ford refused to consider becoming $1 a year men. Nardelli of Chrysler actually earns $1 a year in SALARY, although I couldn't find any information on the other compensation he may receive. (As an aside, he started 2007 with the $210 million parachute from the harm he inflicted at Home Depot, so no worries about where his next meal is coming from.)

In 2007, Wagoner made $15.7 million. Mulally made $21.7 million. There is a level of obscenity here. If you've never seen it, it's a good time to rent Michael Moore's Roger and Me.

Some people don't own cars. Some people have never owned a car, and have no need to own one. Some people (who are generally Americans) own multiple cars, and have justifications for doing so. Here in America one's car has become a way of defining oneself. I'm not saying that's a good thing, I view a car as transportation, but I certainly know people who judge other people on the type of car one owns.

In addition to the immediate economic problems that will be caused by the failure of the US automotive industry, there is emotional pain related to what will hopefully be a temporary pause before the industry retools and begins building green cars. In general, Americans who do own cars, remember the car they learned on, the first beater they bought, the first real car they bought.

One American car company is doing okay: Tesla. They've had some financing and production problems, and at over $100,000 it's out of reach for most people. But it is electric, and people who buy them, like them. For what it's worth, there will still be a domestic producer even if the Big Three go under.

What about you? Please use the comments for your car stories. You know you have them!