When our parents were learning to drive in the 1960s & 70s, American car companies were roaring industries raking in incredible sales and profits. Auto workers demanded a fair share of the profits, fought for the benefits they deserved, and the middle class in America grew strong. Blinded by their successes, the American car companies continued with their trend of building big gas-guzzling cars, and in the 1990s, this business model culminated with the SUV. Over the last few years, with the downswing in the economy, auto workers sacrificed many of their previous benefits in order to keep the car companies afloat, but they couldn’t save the auto industry on their own. Then things really got tough, with the mortgage crisis and the credit crunch.
You may remember that Wall Street was bailed out not too long ago. Some people groaned about the bailout, but it was seen as necessary to keep the financial institutions going.
So why are the same people who suppoted the Wall Street bailot against the auto bailout? Why so much talk about letting people “learn their lesson the hard way”? The difference is Wall Street represents the interests of the rich, and Detroit represents the interest of hard-working middle-class America.
In these times of real economic hardship, the people with all the power in these companies still don’t quite seem to understand what it means to suffer. When they went to Congress last week to ask for a $25 billion bailout, the CEOs of these giant companies each flew to DC in a private jet! In case you missed it on the Daily Show, here are the chiefs of America’s floundering auto industries, unwilling to part with their private jets:
The good news is that GM is now giving up two of its five corporate checks. Apparently “G.M. says the timing is coincidental since it was already in the process of returning the two jets.”