We have just witnessed one of the most daring schemes and hustles in modern history. The secretary of treasury forces Congress and the president to fork over nearly $1 trillion dollars that we really didn't have under the perception that it was going to save millions from losing their homes.
As Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D - Ohio) put it, "It was simply a bait and switch game."
People in danger of losing their homes are no better off and the money went in various directions other than what Secretary Paulson claimed it would be used for.
Yes, Wall St. had a new fast stash of money and it got drunk again. Big banks took a lot and went shopping like Sarah Palin in Neiman Marcus. Bonuses were paid wherever they could quickly do it and the culprits of the financial crisis received no-bid federal contracts to clean up their own mess.
The common taxpayer was indeed exploited one more time and it appears that they will be coming back for more. Our treasury is in the hands of incompetent, greedy and selfish individuals who don't give a damn about the common citizen or state of the future.
Such is the saga of the Bailout Crisis. It is a disaster turning into a tragedy. Now, we have another big problem to deal with. This problem has been festering for nearly forty years. It is the U.S. automobile industry. The Big 3 have had a history of paying wages that are too high; making cars that are ugly and not economical and reacting to changes in the market way too slowly.
Japanese and Korean automakers are pulling way in front of them when it comes to technology, environmental accountability. Yes, the days of Henry Ford are long gone and our auto industry is fast becoming a "dinosaur" – a very broke dinosaur.
The Big 3 (Chrysler, General Motors and Ford) want at least a $25 billion loan from the federal government. Yes, they want their own customized bailout. Why $25 billion? Basically, it sounds nice but they really don't know what their actual condition is. No one knows if this would actually save them or stall the inevitable – bankruptcy. One thing is for sure: there are a lot of jobs and American families at stake here. I guess the most important issue is how can we make it right?
For too many years, we have allowed this industry to make gas-guzzling machines that break down almost as soon as they leave the lot. We have drifted to foreign made cars at record rates and have fallen in love with their economy and efficiency. Cars like Ford (F.O.R.D. – fix or repair daily) have become a world laughing stock.
Toyota, Nissan, Honda, etc. are leading the fields in almost every category. What our auto industry needs to do now is become competitive. We must have reliability and they must start addressing the demand for fuel efficiency.
President Elect Obama is correct in stating that if we give the auto industry this loan they must apply it to new technology and come out of their Neanderthal mindset. Mileage, alternative fuel and reliability must be addressed if the American auto industry is to survive and these many precious jobs are to remain under our control. Detroit must change its ways and it must do it now.
We are at a crossroads and it is time for strong leadership and courage. There must be a cleansing at the top of auto management. We need fresh leaders with new ideas and an aggressive vision for the future.
The United Autoworkers Union must understand that pay is way out of line and they must step back in order to save their careers. The pension demands are ridiculous and they must be adjusted. All the technology that we have must now be utilized and new, better products have to hit the road.
The Big 3 have maybe two years to turn this around and they must begin immediately.
Harry Alford is the co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. Website www.nationalbcc.org.