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Republicans in the Senate rejected the auto bailout because they want the union to agree to allow the companies to pay competitive salaries. But the Governor of Michigan “doesn’t know why the auto companies are failing”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/13/business/13uaw.html?_r=1&hp:

bq. Washington gave a bailout to the financial institutions, and did not ask a single question, the governor said, “then lay the blame for the auto industry, which is a victim of this financial meltdown, on the backs of the people who are working on the line.”

Helping the Wall Street financial firms amounts to handing them cash because their product is cash. If the government could hand GM, Ford and Chrysler cars or even designs for really good cars, a bailout would make some sense.

The auto industry is not a victim of the financial meltdown. If they were, then Honda, Toyota, BMW and Daimler would also be on the verge of collapse and begging for money from their governments. Well-run companies can handle economic downturns and drops in sales. Poorly-run companies don’t anticipate them, prepare for them or survive them without help.