The New York Times asks leading experts whether America “needs an auto industry.” Robert Lawrence and Tyler Cowen both point out that Japanese companies like Toyota make cars very effectively in the U.S. with American workers. As Lawrence writes, the problem is continuously “framed” in terms of costs and competitiveness, but that’s not really what’s the matter. The real problem is about out-of-touch, outmoded, ineffective Big Three management.
We’re told Chrysler needs a massive injection of “cutting-edge Fiat technology” to survive. Huh, why? What were these guys doing? Did they just forget that… er… new technology might be important to their long-run future?
Robert Reich lays down the gauntlet on jobs:
What? Having General Motors or Chrysler cut tens of thousands of jobs in order to be eligible for a government bailout reminds me of “saving” Vietnam by bombing it to smithereens. Aren’t we giving these companies billions of taxpayer dollars to save jobs? If not, we’re just transferring money from taxpayers to GM and Chrysler bondholders and shareholders …
[T]he “American auto industry” shouldn’t be defined as auto companies whose headquarters are in the United States. The true “American auto industry” is Americans who make automobiles. At the rate the Big Three are shrinking even as they’re bailed out, foreign automakers with American plants may soon employ more Americans than the Big Three do.”