November 23, 2008

Crisis is opportunity to alter auto industry

I believe a bailout for the auto industry is inevitable and essential. In this fragile economic climate, allowing the Big Three to file for bankruptcy would devastate the market But I think it should carry heavy stipulations.

President-elect Barack Obama has recently repeated his campaign vow to reduce climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and, considering that two-thirds of the oil we consume each day in the United States is for transportation, fuel-efficient cars are an obvious priority. But it has become clear that, without government encouragement of efficiency through regulation and incentives, the U.S. auto industry will continue to push gas-guzzling, inefficient trucks and SUVs, just as it has long been doing, even as auto industries abroad have been retooling for efficiency.

We should see this bailout debate as an opportunity to catch up.

It may be the auto industry's fault that it could be facing bankruptcy. But if we don't help the industry and at the same time force it to restructure, we will all suffer the consequences, both economically and environmentally.

Melissa Donnelly, Washington

Make automakers pay for mismanagement

What assembly line worker John Lewis, who was quoted in Scott Calvert's article "Auto anxiety" (Nov. 19), seems not to understand is that there is no free lunch.

The leaders of the United Auto Workers union and the inept auto manufacturers management have implemented union contracts that establish labors costs of $71 an hour (in wages plus fringe benefits) to produce American automobiles.

The U.S. auto industry must now pay for its mismanagement, file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, replace its management and renegotiate these bloated union contracts.

This might permit U.S. automotive products to compete on a more level playing field.

Hershel Brown, Lutherville

Let banks bail out the auto industry

Here's an idea worth considering: Let the banks that have received federal bailout money (to get credit flowing) put up loans to bail out the Detroit automakers ("Auto CEOs come begging on private jets," Nov. 20).

If these free enterprise banks don't want any part of that action, why should taxpayers prop up uncompetitive businesses?

Melvin Barnhart, Randallstown

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