What Really Killed the Auto Bailout

by DAVID MACARAY

Until Governor Blagojevich, Bernard Madoff, and Israel-Palestine more or less blew the story off the front page, there were some interesting postmortems being conducted on how and why the rescue plan of the Big Three automakers was torpedoed by the U.S. Congress.

While the enterprise has officially been relegated to “old news,” C-SPAN’s coverage of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearings on the bailout reminded me of an apocryphal story, which, in turn, helped bring the whole, sorry spectacle into focus.

According to the story, there was a European king centuries ago who regularly toured the towns and villages of his kingdom.  In honor of these visits it was customary for the town to ring its church bell upon his arrival.  During one such tour, the King and his party approached the outskirts of a town and were surprised that the church bell wasn’t rung.  They continued toward the center of town until they reached town square itself, and, still, no bell.

The King summoned the mayor.  “Why wasn’t the church bell rung in my honor?” he demanded.  “Your Majesty,” the mayor answered, “there are three reasons we didn’t ring the church bell.  First, our church has no bell; second . . .”  The King stopped him.  “Having heard your first reason, I have no desire to hear the other two.”

This bell story came to mind as the Republican senators—many of them Southerners (including the influential Bob Corker of Tennessee, and the committee’s ranking member, Richard Shelby of Alabama)—attempted to explain their reasons for opposing the loan package.

It occurred to me that Senators Shelby, Corker, et al, could have saved everyone in the room considerable time, energy, and aggravation if they had just been honest and stated their single, non-negotiable objection to the bailout in plain English, rather than pretending they were actually “wrestling” with the issue.

Had Shelby simply said, “The reason we oppose the bailout is because we want Detroit to fail,” it would have immediately cleared the air (if not the room).  No one—not the exhausted Democrats, the disgraced car executives, or the bewildered UAW rep—would have been required to listen to “other” reasons.  They may not have liked what Shelby said, but at least they would have known from the get-go that their situation was hopeless.

It’s a fact.  Southern Republicans do want to see Detroit fail.  They want to see Detroit fail not only for obvious economic reasons (i.e., to benefit their own rapidly growing auto manufacturing sector), but for the same reason they want to see San Francisco, New York, Hollywood, sushi bars, nipple rings, and hip-hop fail:  because they don’t approve of what those cities and those cultural phenomena represent.

Detroit is a union town, and Southern Republicans don’t like unions.  They don’t like unions, they don’t like gays, they don’t like environmentalists, they don’t like gun laws, and they don’t like minorities.

Anyone who listened to their sanctimonious, self-congratulatory speeches could tell that the prospect of spending taxpayer money wasn’t what bothered these guys.  Protecting the taxpayer was a ploy, a noble-sounding gimmick.  After all, these are the same politicians who furiously lobby the federal government for defense contracts and agriculture, tobacco and textile subsidies.

Indeed, the ease with which Republicans awarded the financial institutions nearly one trillion dollars of taxpayer money—practically a blank check—and their well-documented love affair with all things military (no weapons system can, by definition, be too expensive), is proof of how willing they are to spend federal money, provided it’s spent on something they like..

No, for Southern Republicans this wasn’t an economic issue.  It was a cultural decision.  And in this regard, Senator Dodd (D-Conn), chairman of the committee, missed a wonderful, cross-cultural opportunity to get these Sons of the Confederacy to change their minds, and to do it on national television.

Dodd should have asked Shelby and company this question:  If the Big Three go out of business, what’s that going to do to NASCAR?

DAVID MACARAY, a Los Angeles playwright (“Borneo Bob,” “Larva Boy”) and writer, was a former labor union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Rodionov
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: a New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative