Bail Out the Big Three? Only if the CEOs Bail Out First

I almost wretched when I read that the CEOs for Ford, GM and Chrysler all flew on private jets to Washington DC this week to make the appeal for a government handout. Alan Mulally of Ford, Robert Nardelli of Chrysler and Richard Wagoner of GM all took their corporate Gulfstreams or Learjets or whatever at a cost of around $20,000 each (one way) to plead for taxpayer help in saving their bloated, top-heavy operations from bankruptcy. You talk about not getting it! That’s one mixed message they’re sending the shareholders and you and me. Ugh.

I’m really torn about the whole bailout issue for the Big Three. (I could care less about the banks and loan companies; greedheads whose “products” included the sub-prime loans that have undermined the entire US economy. Cars are another matter altogether.) My dad worked thirty years for GM, grinding out a career with barely adequate benefits and a minuscule pension. Now even the benefits are in jeopardy. Dad passed away almost ten years ago, leaving Mom as the sole beneficiary, and now she’s threatened with losing her health care coverage at a time when she needs it most. So now if I say to hell with the Big Three, I’m also saying I don’t care about Mom’s health care coverage. Lovely…

As to their collective futures, I’d love to see GM, Ford and Chrysler pull their collective heads out and show some real commitment to “ending our  dependence on foreign oil.” (That’s quoted in the same spirit as “keeping us safe from terrorism.”) But I’ve run out of sympathy for the CEOs.  The only way I’d agree to a Federal bailout is if they all bail out of their private jets — from 30,000 feet — without parachutes. Maybe with some younger, more open-minded leadership, they might even start making cars we’d want to buy again.

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