To rescue, or not to rescue

I have mixed feelings about the bailout of the auto industry:

  1. Taxpayers should not have to pay for auto industry mistakes, poor planning, etc.
  2. Subsidiary industries that depend on the auto industry should not have to suffer because of industry mistakes, poor planning, etc.

These two issues cause a great deal of cognitive dissonance within me, as I’m sure they do in many people following the issue. However, while I feel for the people who will be impacted by this, I cannot help that the CEOs and unions of the auto industry are trying to make a insidious connection between the issues that goes something like this:

  1. Millions of jobs will be lost if the auto industry fails
  2. The auto industry can be saved by taxpayer dollars
  3. If the taxpayer dollars are not forthcoming and the auto industry fails, it is the fault of the taxpayers

No one that I know of has said this outright, but this is the message that I am getting from the comments from the Big Three CEOs and auto union presidents. I find this kind of fear-based argument shameful, and if Congress can see through the murk, they should take this into consideration as part of their decision-making process.

I feel for the people whose jobs depend on the industry. (Although I’m skeptical of the nationalism that creeps into statements like, "the United States autoworkers are the best workers on the planet." Who makes this judgment? Maybe it’s true, but it’s certainly not true about their management.) This is why it is so hard for me to say, screw it, don’t give the auto industry another penny. Let the market sort it out. But that’s where I’m leaning, un-Democratic though it might be. If we don’t, the industry will never learn. Besides, we are resilient. And Part of me thinks this is one big bluff on the part of the auto industry.

In this Yahoo! article on the subject, there was on paragraph that caught my attention:

The bailout remains unpopular with the public. Sixty-one percent oppose providing the auto companies with billions in federal assistance, according to a CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll released on Wednesday. Fifty-three percent said it would not help the country’s economy.

Normally, it wouldn’t occur to me to care what 53 percent of people who are probably not subject matter experts had to say about a particular subject. But I got to thinking about social networking. Maybe there is something to this 53 percent after all. Common wisdom, perhaps?