|December 8, 2008|
|Only Oprah Can Rally America to Save its Car Companies|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|What is wrong with America? |
A whopping 60 percent of us oppose the bailout of Detroit’s Big Three automakers, according to CNN. That comes as America bleeds jobs. An auto bailout isn't about saving the hides of corporate executives. The Big Three CEO trio would resign in a heartbeat if that is what it takes to get a U.S. lifeline. The bailout is about the more than five million Americans who will lose their jobs during the next two years if Detroit goes under.
The Labor Dept. reported today that the unemployment rate hit 6.7 percent, the highest level since '93. More than half a million Americans were tossed from their jobs in November, which is the largest monthly decline since '74. Nearly two million Americans have been dropped by employers this year. Just imagine adding another 5M-plus people to that toxic unemployment stew.
The Big Three CEOs made their pitch to Congress. Round I was a disaster last month. The chiefs were unprepared for their testimony, and were torched for “sideshows” like flying corporate jets to D.C. Those jets are now grounded.
The CEOs made a recovery this week. The strapping former Duke University basketball player & General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner even made a good case for the amount of headroom space in Chevy’s Malibu by hitching a ride to D.C. for Round Two. He also scrunched himself into the electric Chevy Volt for a ride to Capitol Hill.
The Big Three told Congress that thousands of jobs will be lost, even if the bailout is approved. GM, in fact, might not make it to the end of the month if it doesn’t get its hands on $4B from Uncle Sam. They outlined the absolute bloodbath if the companies go belly-up. We might as well turn the lights out in the Midwest.
Yet a majority of America coldly gives thumbs down to throwing the auto companies a lifeline. What are we thinking? The Center for Automotive Research, which is funded by car companies, says America will lose 3M jobs next year if the companies go broke. That is $150B in personal income, and $60B in tax dollars. There will be another 2.5M jobs lost in `10, worth $138B in income and $54B in taxes. Those are nightmarish numbers for an economy that currently is in a recession.
What will it take before America gets the message? It’s great fun to ridicule corporate chieftains as they take their tin cups to Washington. And it’s a great for bozos like Tennessee Senator Bob Corker to score cheap political points. The best thing “is for y’all to go away as a stand-alone entity,” he told Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli.
But it is not the CEOs who will go cold and hungry if GM, Ford and Chrysler go bust. It will be the millions of workers and their family membes who suffer because Americans are so callous toward their brothers and sisters. Whatever happened to President Bush's "armies of compassion?"
There is one remaining secret weapon that Detroit can turn to: Oprah Winfrey. Her plug for Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader led to a run on that item. Oprah’s “favorite new gadget” is now sold out for Christmas.
Imagine if Oprah gave a similar TV plug to save the U.S. car companies. That footage could be quickly turned into a PSA. Oprah could give the greatest Christmas gift of all to America and the millions of people who depend on a U.S. car industry.
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