Save Them From Themselves For Our Sake

This is one of the best ideas I’ve heard in a while with regards to help­ing the Amer­i­can econ­o­my. I have to resist just copy­ing the entire post here, but here’s the main point:

If peo­ple don’t buy cars, there is no amount of bailout that will save the mil­lions of US jobs in and relat­ed to car man­u­fac­tur­ing. If they’re not mak­ing cars, the man­u­fac­tur­ers won’t recall work­ers or order from their sup­pli­ers. It’s as sim­ple as that.

But there’s a pret­ty sim­ple solu­tion as well. The US gov­ern­ment should order a com­plete replace­ment for its vehi­cle fleet to be deliv­ered over the next four years. The new vehi­cles must be either plu­g­in elec­tric hybrid, pure elec­tric, or pos­si­bly nat­ur­al gas. Obvi­ous­ly retool­ing both at the man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers is required to deliv­er this order so the gov­ern­ment should be will­ing to pre­pay a sig­nif­i­cant part of it as it does for new weapons sys­tems. That gets mon­ey into the sys­tem fast and creates/saves jobs almost imme­di­ate­ly. It lets the sup­pli­ers retool as well as the final assem­blers.

It’s a bit stom­ach turn­ing the way our gov­ern­ment decides to just fork over moun­tains of cash with few strings attached to large cor­po­ra­tions who are in trou­ble: banks, air­lines, auto man­u­fac­tur­ers.

I’ve often heard the com­plain (most­ly from con­ser­v­a­tives about lib­er­als) that just throw­ing mon­ey a prob­lem won’t auto­mat­i­cal­ly just fix it. That’s very true, and in the case of recent finan­cial bailouts, I could­n’t agree more (and this was also bipar­ti­san). That being said, there are very few issues that get solved for free, either. And with issues as large as these, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is real­ly the only insti­tu­tion that has the abil­i­ty to tack­le them. But can’t we use that lever­age and strength to address the under­ly­ing prob­lems? Are we real­ly so short-sight­ed of a peo­ple as to just want things back the way they were a few years ago?

The point is not to save Amer­i­can com­pa­nies from them­selves. The point is to use Amer­i­can tax mon­ey to help make Amer­i­ca a bet­ter place for Amer­i­cans. (via Dar­ing Fire­ball)