Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cars, Banks and Illinois Politics

It certainly hasn't taken long for the economy to tank. This house of cards we've created is tumbling down and it will bring many Americans to a new realization. The last time we did this to ourselves we created what Tom Brokaw has come to refer to as "the Greatest Generation." I wonder what kind of generation this fiscal crisis will create?

It strikes me as silly, the sound bites each news broadcast use, to try and explain why it is right or wrong to give the banking industry a $700 billion and the billions the auto industry is attempting to suck from the treasury. For the past 40 years the American car industry has continued down a path that is continually blazed by the Japanese. On top of the fact they have committed to building large trucks and SUV with miserable gas mileage they have legacy costs that cripple their ability to be cost efficient in their product development. They are also slow, terribly slow, in bringing new technology to the market. Perhaps that is as much our fault as theirs. As long as we buy those trucks and SUV what motivation do they have to change. It is only when oil tops $130.00 a barrel and $4.00 a gallon does the news and the consumer make a big noise about how terrible it is. So how do we address their failures, and the failures of their management? We offer a government bailout that will increase our national debt with uncertain benefit. This is not like the Chrysler bailout of the 80's, where management offered a clear path to improvement and paid back the loans in 1/2 the expected time.

Finally, as the latest of a continuing panorama of corruption unfolds in Illinois it is important to keep in mind this is the political training ground for our new President. I hope he is well insulated from this, but I won't be surprised to see his closest advisers go the way of Scooter Libby. The future offers a Cornucopia of scandal and government corruption with all the money we have doled out over the past couple of months. The only question is just exactly how long is its incubation?
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