Do you remember when Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca came to the U.S. Government, hat in hand, to ask for Federal bailout money? Even though it went against Constitutional laws, Uncle Same approved and gave Chrysler said money. Iacocca was hailed at an economic hero and a business genius.
What did we, the American public, get out of this? The “K” Car.
For years, many Americans have complained of not-so-good quality and worse out of American-made cars. The usual reasons get trotted out like old horses from some dilapidated barn.
The unions are blamed, thanks to their high salaries and health and pension plans.
The chairmen and governing boards are blamed, thanks to their sky-high salaries and bonuses.
Engineers and lower level executives are blamed, sitting on discoveries that could increase fuel efficiency and safety for reasons of greed or power or both.
All of these have their places in the growing demise of American car manufacturing, no doubt about it. But there are also another reason why more Americans have turned to foreign models. And that is lack of domestic competition.
Smaller rivals like AMC, Nash, Studebaker and Checker were eliminated, one by one, thanks to the Big Three and Big Government joining together to squeeze them out. Especially upstarts like Tucker and his Torpedo, incorporating then unheard-of features like safety belts and the engine in the rear, were squished before they got off the ground. The DeLorean sports car is another good example.
If Washington and the Big Three in the auto industry would get out of the way, we could have more domestic competition in the marketplace from smaller rivals. More and more bailouts, as is proposed for the auto industry like it was for the banking industry, does nothing for the market economy in this country.
So from a Distributist perspective, several things need to be done.
One, the Congress must vote NO on the proposed auto industry bailout. It is unconstitutional, and won't guarantee that the Big Three automakers won't make the same mistakes that brought them to where they are now.
Two, the auto unions should not only fight for worker ownership in their companies, but also worker management of the same. There should be worker-representatives on the governing board of the auto makers, giving the working man and woman a say on how the company should be run.
Three, the Big Three should be broken up into smaller companies, so as to reduce the specter of domestic monopoly in this industry.
Four, any Federal restrictions on smaller car manufacturers – written in favor of the Big Three – should be repealed.
The American auto industry, like so many others in the manufacturing sector, must be rebuilt on a foundation that favors smaller scale production, built on a cooperative basis, eliminate Socialist micro-management and over regulation, and promotes worker ownership and management of these companies.
The Voice asks our readers to call their Congressmen and Senators, and demand they vote NO on any proposed Federal bailout of the Big Three automakers.