Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Auto Company Roulette: Epilogue

See if you can find some logic in this. The Obama stimulus plan doesn’t work. Instead of creating or “saving” the promised 3 or 4 million dollars in new jobs, the unemployment figures skyrocket and now approaches ten percent. The finance and insurance bailouts were supposed to unlock the frozen credit markets but only managed to cause anger and a panic which reverberates through American business. Obama claims success—borrowing has been loosened, and to a slight extent, that is true. You can borrow money from the banks but only if you already have a great deal of it. For the rest of America, credit is a dead issue.

You’re the POTUS, so what do you do? The answer is obvious only to Obama bum-boys like Paul Krugman of the New York Times. You admit to no errors and instead look around for a convenient tautology which proves that your original multi-trillion dollar mistake resulted from a lack of enthusiasm. Krugman’s column yesterday proposed that Obama was holding too tightly to the pursestrings and was unwilling to spend enough. Krugman urges the president o let loose the pursestrings. Imagine that! Obama, the niggardly miser, the tight-fisted supply-sider! The remedy, says Krugman, echoing the complaints of the administration, is to conjure up a larger spending plan.

In effect, that’s what the Obamaniacs are doing now, hatching a plan for spending additional billions in taxpayer stimulus money to pour down the drain merely to provide the impression, entirely for the benefit of Obama’s cheerleaders, that you are doing something. Bailing out the car companies may have helped the UAW and Fritz Henderson in Detroit but it hadn’t helped much on Main Street.

On that score, I went shopping around for a replacement of my high-mileage 1999 Ford Truck again today. I know you’re not supposed to feely sympathy for used car sales people but I did. I talked to several of them in the last couple of weeks or so. The happiest among the lot were the Ford dealers but that wasn’t saying much. A certain salesman at a Ford dealership told me today it was the worst he’d seen it in all his 18 years of auto sales.

“Yesterday, they laid off four mechanics,” he added.

I tried to cheer him up, telling him that Ford sales were up 14 percent in China and that Ford was only down 11 percent from its figures a year ago. Chrysler and GM were totally in the pits, with downside of about 42 percent from the previous year. The man agreed that Ford was doing pretty well but that his dealership was having trouble getting product. I’d read that Ford was ramping up production at some plants and told him so.

At a GM dealer further down the road, a sales guy told me he was going to quit the business after 22 years. His wife was against the idea, telling him to buck up, that things would improve. I was apologetic because I’d been curt with him and wanted to make it up.

“I don’t mean to be an asshole—it’s just that my wife is waiting in our car and I promised her I wouldn’t be long,” I said.

I told him my name. I gave him my phone number and email address and took the time to describe exactly the type of truck I was looking for in case he could find one in the “system.”

“Anthony,” he said, “That’s my son’s name. Well, I appreciate your saying that. People just drive through any more and don’t even bother to say anything—they head right back onto the highway. I’d just like to know how the hell I’m going to send the kid to college he’s getting near that age right now.”

It really sucks for these guys…it sucks for a whole lot of people. But
I have an idea that would help these people and also help the auto industry. Obama should have taken all those billions he squandered to lawyers and union executives and bankruptcy court officials and he should have distributed it directly to the people who needed it. With about $16,000 or $20,000, I could have a pretty neat used pickup truck and the car dealerships would have a new and better customer. Maybe some mechanics would still be working. And the car sales people could make a buck, too.

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