Fate of the Automakers: The Lady Or The Tiger?

By Tuesday, November 18, 2008 3 0

My carpool has naturally been discussing whether the government should bail out the Detroit automakers. The bailout question reminds me of the short story “The Lady Or The Tiger” in which a woman decides which door to send her lover to, i.e. death or a new life with a new lady.

Carpool opinions may be influenced by the fact that three of the six of us drive foreign-made hybrids. The group believes in fuel efficiency, a value Detroit has not shared — which is one of several reasons the American auto industry is failing.

On the other hand, my mother-in-law Joan is a General Motors pensioner, which helps to illustrate the large portion of our population that’s economically dependent on automaking. Joan already received word some months ago that GM is taking away her health insurance as of January 1st; she’ll need to buy it on the open market. It’s not completely clear to us yet whether her GM pension is insured if GM goes under, or not. (Don’t get me started on the United States’ failure to yet see health care as a basic human right; it makes me see red.)

My husband, his siblings and I will all make sure Joan is taken care of whatever GM’s fate is– but of course, not all people economically dependent on automaking have other resources at the ready.

For my part, I would choose both the lady and the tiger for U.S. automakers. The tiger would give a merciful death blow to their (deathly itself) habit of making oversized, gas-guzzling cars that accelerate global warming. The lady would usher them into a new life of making smaller, fuel-efficient cars, and fewer of them. The world has too many cars, most of which sit idle 22 hours a day.

Most of all, we need economic transformation and massive retraining in green jobs like energy efficiency and renewable energy, i.e. wind and solar.

  • Colleen
    November 18, 2008

    I don’t think it’s too late for the American auto industry to accelerate its production of fuel-efficient vehicles of all kinds. I drive a 2007 Ford Focus, an American car, and it gets great mileage! I’d like to think the American auto industry still has a chance to redeem itself, providing economic stability for its workers in the future.

  • Caleb
    November 22, 2008

    I think that you draw attention to a very valid point. One of which I’ve yet to ponder. Would it be better for our world, when you glance at the bigger picture, to let these gas-guzzling giants go under? From a green, worldly point of view, these companies have dealt devastating blows to the health of our world. As we let this economic crisis mask other, (maybe, but probably) more serious issues, is it not for our own preservation that these corporate giants are falling?

  • Dave
    December 4, 2008

    Don’t get me started on the other failure of the US auto industry – to fully fund the retirement plans. The way the auto industry talks you’d think these obligations were forced on them – they signed contracts with these unions year after year and now want the taxpayer to bail them out! The auto manufacturers should at least start supporting national health care as a way to make a graceful exit.

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