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Editorial November 20, 2008  RSS feed


All the talk about the faltering economy, bailouts for Wall Street, foreclosures on homes and the doomsday predictions for the auto industry may sound paradoxical to John and Jane Q. Public.

Consider that pro athletes are still being offered many millions of dollars to perform in the arena while layoffs in the thousands are being reported in every field of industry.

House prices, inflated to start with, now have owners paying huge mortgages on homes that are dropping in value. What is the incentive to keep paying those mortgages? Real estate values should rise—not fall—with time.

Elected officials in Washington act as though they found out about this economic crisis last week. Now alerted to the trouble, they pin the blame on the greed of Wall Street and the poor management of the auto industry.

But it would serve these same elected finger-pointers well if they took a look in the mirror. Where have they been these past years while all the problems were brewing? In truth, their chronic ineptness can be blamed for what has led to the nationwide angst.

According to reports, GM outsold Toyota in the U.S. and abroad last year. Ford outsold Honda in the U.S. and Chrysler sold more vehicles domestically than Nissan and Hyundai combined.

In emerging markets, it was reported that GM is the topselling carmaker in China, the world's second largest vehicle market. For some reason, Buicks are wildly popular.

Ford and GM offer more hybrid models than Honda or Nissan. The Chevrolet Volt, due in 2011, is expected to be the first extended-range, plug-in electric car. The Big Three spend $12 billion a year on research and development.

The auto industry claims that the tightening of the credit market has slowed the purchases of cars, which, in turn, stops the flow of money to the manufacturer.

On top of that, they claim the cost of providing pensions and health care to retired workers runs into the millions and the lack of sales is slowing the cash flow.

Everyone—with the exception of those in the fields of professional sports and show business—seems to be hurting financially. It remains to be seen whether the incoming president and members of Congress can dig America's working stiffs out of this hole.

Possibly, the ones enjoying the greatest prosperity by plying a recession-proof profession have been the pirates of Somalia. These are the same people who dragged dead American soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu and killed a dozen more before we ran out of that country with our tail between our legs.

In hijacking 91 ships this year, the brazen pirates have demanded and received millions in ransom.

For years, people would claim that Wall Streeters and car makers were no better than thieves. It's a view that has become harder to argue against, considering their efforts to hijack the taxpayers' money.