Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

We should not be afraid of a liquidation bankruptcy of GM. We should embrace it.

Half the problem with our economic system is that we have not allowed poorly structured and run companies to fail. Letting GM be liquidated would send a very strong signal to corporate America. Coddling it with tax breaks, tariffs and protectionist legislation for decades is exactly what got it into this mess--not the UAW.

The US worker is the most productive in the world by a significant margin, yet has seen a continuous slide in the constant dollar value of pay and benefits, even as the managers and executives have exploded their compensation even as they railed against the "excessive" compensation of the hourly workers that actually create the product that pays all salaries in a manufacturing company.

The only way GM should be bailed out would be contingent on the CEO, chairman and entire board of directors be fired along with every vice- president, brand manager- period. No severance--simply escorted to the door with a box in their arms on live TV in front of the public. Banned from the management of American business for life.

David A. Gregory

Marion, AR,

Nov 29 2008 - 4:42pm

Web Letter

We keep hearing from the auto makers and from labor that they have tremendous concessions that will become effective in 2010.

I suggest the government send the industry a large bailout check the first day of 2010 that these concessions become effective--and not a minute before!

David Zacharisen

Millington, NJ

Nov 29 2008 - 1:48am

Web Letter

Since social-democratic solutions for Wall Street are coming out of the White House, I don't see why the government can't buy into the auto industry. However, regulating big business and multinational corporations would also work. Laws can be made setting wages and standards, including the "golden parachutes" for corporate executives. At some point in the future, we might take a look at some anti-trust action against those companies that are "too big to fail." If they really are too big to fail, they pose a continuing threat to the national economy. Many smaller companies doing the same work would prevent the destruction of a whole industry through the idiocy of a small group of people. It would also be helpful if the managers of an industry came up the ladder in the business they manage, and had some knowledge of the products they sell. An MBA doesn't mean a thing if you don't have some knowledge of the business you are running.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Nov 28 2008 - 3:18pm

Web Letter

Is a $500 lithium ion auto battery possible?

If implementation of silicon NANO wire technology developed by Stanford University eventually increases lithium ion charge holding ability by ten times as promised, then we will have the choice of a 400-mile range (Cadillac?) for the same battery price or a 40-mile range (Geo?) at one-tenth the price.

The lithium ion battery now adds $10,000 to the price of a hybrid. If that price is cut in half over the years (battery prices don't drop at the rate electronics prices do) and you choose a 40-mile range battery, it could cost you only $500.

This may not help GM with the original price, but it could cut replacement battery price to a pittance (cheaper than all those tune-ups)--and cut some weight too.

Denis Drew

Chicago, IL

Nov 28 2008 - 2:02pm

Web Letter

Mr. Pinnette asks "Why is the myth out there that workers on the line at the Big Three make $73 an hour, when they actually bring home $28 to $38 an hour?" He is confusing "take-home" with total wage costs, which include pension contributions, taxes like Social Security and other costs, which do total in the seventies range. That is obviously not very supportable in the current auto market.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Nov 28 2008 - 7:19am

Web Letter

We sure go to a whole lot of trouble to produce private cars. If we took what we spend on private cars and used it for a public bus system, I bet we could have such a good bus system we would all use it. For times when we'd want our own vehicle, there'd be fleets of rentals. (Think Smart.)

Let's not just rebuild the auto industry. Let's build something new. Same with the bankrupt financial system we seem to be trapped in.

Michael Melius

Hermosa, SD

Nov 27 2008 - 10:01pm

Web Letter

An excellent article, although much too long and much too inclusive to fit the sound-bite generation.

I have several questions. Here are a couple of the most pressing ones. Why is the myth out there that workers on the line at the Big Three make $73 an hour, when they actually bring home $28 to $38 an hour? Why do we still think that we can get 100 miles per gallon out of an engine designed for steam, ( i.e., four-stroke engine)? At best, it is going to be 10 to 15 percent efficient. Hybrids are an idea but not ideal for all situations, and the mileage is in fact limited. Where did the lie come from that Toyota and Honda are so much better on gas mileage? Quality control seems to be better for Honda and Toyota, but the last time I went junkyard shopping there were, in fact, as many Toyotas and Hondas as Chevys, Fords.and Chryslers. We need to loan the companies money, period. We also need some new ideas on transportation like gravity and electric highways, as well as high-speed commuter rail to start. We also need to reindustrilize our country. How about low-yield tidal? I think California is stepping into the void.


Caribou, ME

Nov 27 2008 - 1:37pm

Web Letter

To a great extent, the recovery of the Detroit Three is just an arithmetic question: How do they get their costs down to a fairly competitive level? No room for any blame game, we need hard choices and numbers.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Nov 27 2008 - 11:34am

Web Letter

I live in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is about 130 miles west of Detroit. While I don't have any family connections to the Big Three, I recognize that if one of the three fails, it could literally send hundreds of thousands of Michigan workers, and perhaps millions across the county, out of work.

Marissa Colón-Margolies has written the flat-out best article about this crisis that I have ever read. She obviously did her research. And while she acknowledges that many of the Big Three's problems are of their own making, it doesn't make sense to hurt millions of Americans to prove a point with a few executives.

To expand slightly on one of her points, the Southern states have brought Toyota, Honda, Mercedes and other foreign manufacturers to set up shop there. What she doesn't say is that some of these Southern senators worked to give these companies hundreds of millions of dollars to locate there. During World War II, Detroit was called the "Arsenal of Democracy," but Senator Shelby and others don't seem too concerned about American strength right now, even if a global war were to break out.

In addition to those suggestions made by Ms. Colón-Margolies, I support federal vouchers to purchase US-made cars, and the greener the car, the bigger the voucher. I also support leveling the playing field so that no more Japanese cars can be sold here per year than the number of US-built cars allowed into Japan. That's just 30,000 vehicles.

Tony Ettwein

Kalamazoo, MI

Nov 27 2008 - 1:34am

Web Letter

One of the biggest problems for the Big Three is perception. Due to media like you who keep reporting the Big Three don't make fuel-efficient vehicles, the facts are easy to check--but don't sell stories, I guess. GM makes more cars that get over 30mpg hwy than anyone else in the world, they make more hybrids than anyone else, and more flex fuel auto & truck too. The consumers mostly buy their Big Three trucks because they loved them till oil prices got to $4 a gallon. But all the stories on paper & TV keep putting out false information. Sure, there are problems, but false perception is the major one.

Martin Lee Richardson

Tecumseh, MI

Nov 26 2008 - 8:20pm

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.