Monday, November 17, 2008

Bailout for Auto Industry: Sophie's Choice?

Those who want to save the auto industry threaten an escalating Great Depression if we don't. Those who want to let it fail threaten a "Zombie Economy" of flailing, state-supported industries with no customers, like Japan's lost decade.

However, there's a very easy way to split the baby on this issue.

Let GM fail. Or, as others have said, let the government create a way for them to gracefully go bankrupt, while providing unemployment and retraining for their workers. Data shows there's just not enough demand for three U.S. car manufacturers. And GM is too far gone to think that any money we give it isn't better off simply being burned for fuel.

Ford and Chrysler, however, may be worth rescuing; or rather, providing money to under the condition of restructuring to meet the demands of a new energy plan that improves mileage and moves to alternative energy sources. But perhaps those companies can wait until Obama takes office, and this can be part of a larger stimulus/economic restructuring plan.

I agree, we need a domestic auto industry. It's critical to our national security. We just don't need as much domestic auto output as we currently have. So why keep all three? Let the government apply good evolutionary logic to this one: kill the weakest sibling, so the other two have a better chance to survive.

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