Monday, December 15, 2008

The real Detroit

Sitting in my inbox this morning was the following column from Washington Post auto industry writer Warren Brown.

It's a great read, detailing the distinction between the Detroit of lawmakers' myths and the American auto industry as it actually exists today.

To me, this closing passage was most important:

Perception: All Detroit needs is deep restructuring and federal bailout money for long-term viability.

Reality: Wrong. Detroit needs what America sorely needs -- a Congress with the leadership chutzpah to devise and implement industrial and energy policies that will help to keep native manufacturing industries alive. Detroit's problem isn't poor products or lack of products. It's a national government still wedded to the debilitating siren song of cheap gasoline. It's a nationally collapsed financial system. And it's governmental hypocrisy -- our willingness to pour tax dollars into foreign enterprises, most of them not unionized, while griping about doing the same for homegrown, unionized manufacturers largely responsible for building America's middle class.

Unfortunately, the GOP has seized upon the Big 3's crushing financial problems as a cudgel to break unions. I hope the blue-collars and working class among us remember that in 2010, when Republicans trot out campaign props like Joe the Plumber.

3 comments:

maria said...

troit needs what America sorely needs -- a Congress with the leadership chutzpah to devise and implement industrial and energy policies that will help to keep native manufacturing industries alive. Detroit's problem isn't poor products or lack of products. It's a national government still wedded to the debilitating siren song of cheap gasoline.

sorry to (strongly) disagree, but warren brown is full of S. he never met a gas-guzzling SUV he didn't like. have you read his reviews over the past 20-30 years? he is part of the problem!

the american cars by and large are inferior to imports, and congress has tried and failed to increase efficiency standards--which usually detroit opposes.

the big three had big problems WAY before now.

Cami said...

being from there, i've got a lot of thoughts on this one. i think the city needs a revitalization jolt, and ignoring the big 3 would be detrimental in a lot of ways. i've got issues with the fact that citigroup/AIG, etc. got bailed out with a quickness, and people looked at the big 3 like they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

blackink said...

@Maria: I don't know if his reviews of SUVs back in the day have anything to do with his analysis of the crisis facing the Big 3 at this moment. Theoretically, you could appreciate the awesome look and power of a SUV while still finding it an irresponsible purchase. Sort of how I used to feel about certain kinds of gold necklaces. Or, uh, H3s.

And, of course, Detroit auto companies are responsible for many of the problems that have befallen them of late. But the issue is whether or not the buyout is a good idea or not. Or, more aptly, whether it's needed or not. I'm thinking more of the human suffering that would result from the failure of the automakers rather than who's to blame.

@Cami: Right on. I think it's just another sort of class warfare. Our political leaders couldn't help Citigroup and AIG fast enough.