A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let GM Fail

By Signe Wilkinson

Here's a topic on which I can agree with the right-wing Cato Institute: General Motors doesn't need a bailout, it needs to shut down.

GM, as a company, is every bit as bloated and inefficient as the lemon gas-guzzlers it sells. Democrats are rushing to its defense right now, in the name of organized labor. But the mismanagement at GM has already drained hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs from the workforce. The autoworking unions, which sometimes seem more interested in helping their dwindling members make boat payments than they are in boosting downtrodden workers, could also use a shake-up. Giving a rotten company more money so that it can keep on rotting will be as bad for workers as it is for taxpayers.

More important, though, is that the auto industry just isn't that important to the American economy in the 21st century. GM is a corporate antique - about as relevant today as American Can was in 1929. Regardless of what happens to GM, Ford, or Chrysler, demographic trends indicate that the number of cars scrapped will exceed the number of new cars sold for at least the next four years.

The future of American manufacturing lies elsewhere, in the construction of telecommunications infrastructure, railroads, and efficient, renewable energy projects. GM is nineteenth-century relic and a ball and chain on our economy. It's time to say "good riddance."

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