Now that General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are staring into the abyss of free market capitalism (stay competitive or die), the two remaining publicly -owned members of the vaunted Big Three automakers are sucking up to the Fed for a piece of the $700 billion financial industry bailout.
Congress has already slipped the industry a bone in the form of $25 billion worth of low-cost loans. But the auto industry is in its death spiral, and needs more. More!
I can't help but wonder, with all this hemorrhaging of money, why the men who helped make these iconic American companies the dinosaurs they are today are not taking a pay cut themselves. I mean, if you're going to exact a pound of flesh from your working rank and file, why not take a whack at yourself?But that's not the American way. GM CEO Richard Wagoner took home a total of $14.5 million in 2007, a 41% increase over 2006. Meanwhile, GM posted a third quarter net loss of $2.5 billion (that's Billion. With a B.) My colleague Zac Bissonnette wonders what the man would have to do to get fired...join Al Qadea?
GM announced today in the Wall Street Journal that it would be making steep cuts in its white-collar ranks, too. But still no word on any sacrifices Mr. Wagoner might make.
Meanwhile, over at Ford, CEO Allan Mulally took home $22 million in salary and special prizes in 2007, the same year his company lost $2.7 billion. Ford reported a $129 million third quarter loss. Couldn't he step up to the plate and personally save his company $10 million a year?
It's this kind of personal sacrifice that helped bring the auto industry to where it is today. (And yes, I'm implicating the unions here as well.) Finger pointing aside, it's just not looking too good for Detroit.
Adding insult to injury, you can bet none of the big men at the top will be left worrying about their retirement health care plans, like the thousands of retired GM workers now in jeopardy of losing their's when GM goes belly up.
I'm not even going to address the irony of government bailouts for the financial and auto industries while basic universal health care for citizens is immediately shot down as too expensive and "socialist," by right-wingers.
Maybe a new, greener, more nimble personal transportation industry will arise out of the ashes.
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