Letters

LETTERS

November 19, 2008

Time for restructuring of our auto industry

According to data cited by University of Michigan economist Mark Perry, when you fold in health care, pensions, hourly pay, vacations and the rest of their benefits, the average total compensation for a Big Three autoworker is $73.21 an hour.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan pay a still-generous $44.20 an hour in total compensation - which gives them a cost edge of nearly 40 percent. So is it any wonder that Ford, General Motors and Chrysler can't compete?

The Big Three are being out-priced in their own backyard mainly as a result of labor agreements that have driven up costs and put a millstone around their necks.

Based on these basic facts, I, for one, would not want any part of my tax money to be invested in the Big Three. Why not let them go through Chapter 11 bankruptcy instead, which would allow the Big Three to renegotiate their labor and other costs ("Big Three bailout slow to materialize," Nov. 18)?

The auto industry should be held accountable for its problems, and that includes the United Auto Workers union.

If a bailout is inevitable, we should require the Big Three and their unions to restructure themselves as if they were in bankruptcy.

Benedict Frederick Jr., Pasadena

Bankruptcy best path for U.S. automakers

A top-to-bottom reorganization, under the umbrella of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and assisted by the federal government, is the most effective way for the domestic auto industry to return to profitability ("Big Three bailout slow to materialize," Nov. 18).

The U.S. Treasury could provide the necessary financing through the existing Troubled Assets Relief Program. This would allow the companies to continue to operate while they reorganize.

And Congress could authorize a federal auto warranty guarantee program that would be available to all manufacturers who pay the required premiums.

The auto companies' pension liabilities could also be assumed by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.

Paul M. Heid, Baltimore

Tenure lets teachers advocate for kids

The best teachers advocate for their students. And sometimes doing what a teacher knows is right for his or her students is contrary to the wishes of the school administration.

But I wonder: If the teachers in Washington's schools should lose the safety net that tenure affords, as Washington schools chief Michelle Rhee wants them to ("D.C. public school experiment is a test for all of us," Commentary, Nov. 17), would they still advocate for their students?

Or would they do what the administration tells them to save their jobs and incentive pay?

Rick Wade, Lutherville

The writer is a teacher in the Baltimore County public schools.

Added alcohol levy could ease fiscal woes

It's time for Maryland to follow the lead of California and propose an extra nickel a drink tax on beer, wine and distilled spirits to help reduce the state's budget shortfall and, at the same time, provide critical support for programs that reduce alcohol-related problems.

The state could avoid cutting essential programs through this long-overdue alcohol tax increase, which could bring hundreds of millions of new dollars into the state budget.

Maryland has not increased the tax on alcohol for decades, and given the economic crisis and the epidemic of alcohol-related tragedies, the time to add a "nickel a drink" tax is now.

Michael Gimbel, Timonium

The writer is a former director of substance abuse programs for Baltimore County.

Bishops right to speak against killing of unborn

This is the United States of America. Right now, everyone in the United States has freedom of speech. This includes the Catholic bishops of the United States, whether you like their opinion or not ("Bishops cross the line with political intrusion," letters, Nov. 14).

Today, live children have more rights than unborn children. It's legal for a mother to kill unborn children, but kill a live child and you will be prosecuted for murder.

But abortion is also murder, even if it's legal murder. And what kind of people have we become when trying to save unborn, innocent lives is treated as a religious agenda?

Timothy Weber, Baltimore

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