Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hello. Don't feel that much different than Wednesday. Dinner last night with Teams Steans (we went out for Mexican food and I watched some Ghost Hunters with Roundball).

There's been a lot of hubbub and controversy in the media surrounding the "big three" U.S. auto makers (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) and their quest to receive a federal bailout. I have sort of mixed feelings about this. It seems like U.S. automakers have been producing sort of substandard, mediocre cars for decades now (they seem to consume more gasoline than Japanese imports, typically have worse reliability and performance ratings, and cost as much or more than their foreign counterparts). There's certainly a very valid temptation to let these companies fail- to want to let the market do its work in punishing poor decision-making and weeding out weaker businesses in the global market.
On the other hand, letting these automakers fail could potentially create an economic implosion that will leave millions of Americans jobless and drive many secondary, related businesses into bankruptcy (businesses which do everything from manufacturing parts for these cars to feeding factory employees, handling their banking, and even providing healthcare and insurance). On a more sentimental, less pragmatic note, it just feels sort of strange to let these companies fail after we just gave Wall Street a $700 billion bailout. Ford Motor Company, for example, has been in existence since 1903, and has played a pivotal role in not only the overall development of the American economy, but in shaping America's cultural landscape (mass produced Ford cars were a major part of expanding the travel possibilities of the American family and helped turn the U.S. into a country that could be easily traversed by the average person on our highway system- the widespread introduction of affordable automobiles, which Ford was a major part of, literally helped to unify the country). Ford has produced vehicles that have been widely loved and respected for decades- including the Mustang, Ford F series trucks, the Bronco, the Expedition, and even the Crown Victoria. On a more personal note, when Steanso was a very young lad and living up in Michigan, his father, The Admiral, worked for Ford Motor Company, and for some reason Ford became the first word that Steanso could spell (I was quite proud of this ability, and walked around spelling it out- "Ford. F-O-R-D, Ford!").
Anyway, I still think that people would be happy to buy American cars, if only American car companies could get their act together and produce a better product. We need American cars to be more reliable, probably a little bit more stylin', and we need for them to get much better fuel economy. It would really be great if the American auto manufacturers could get ahead of the curve for once and lead the way in producing hybrids and other green energy vehicles with lower emissions and much better gas mileage. We may already be lagging behind foreign auto manufacturers in this regard, but since we're kind of having to rethink automotive design a bit right now, anyway, in order to make automobiles more "green", this might be one of those junctures where we could catch up a bit, make some better products, and get America's auto industry back onto a more competitive footing.
Anyway, I'm not sure the big three deserve a huge bailout, but I know that part of me wants to see America remain in the car making business. Making cars just seems like such a quintessentially American endeavor. Cars are just our thing, darn it.
Ford. F-O-R-D. Ford.

No comments: