The Future of Detroit

The next political football to get tossed around will be the question of whether or not the big three automakers here in the US should get a bailout or a loan or some other financial help in the wake of the economic crisis. I am of two minds on this, my politically expedient mind knows what’s going to happen. My cold utterly logical side wonders what should happen. 

First political reality. There is no way Washington doesn’t bail out the automakers. It might not be the lame duck session under President Bush. But shortly after inauguration President Obama and the new congress will do something. Why? Because no congress wants to be in power when a million people lose their jobs and nation wide ripple-effect further cripples the economy. Make no mistake, treasury will print money as many times as it takes for as long as it takes to keep Detroit alive. 

Now for the policy wonk in me…is that course of action right? While I respect and fear the economic cataclysm that would occur if Detroit was allowed to fail, I also fundamentally believe in creative-destructive force of capitalism. The airlines were dragged into bankrupcy and it forced them into court to retool their labor contracts shed bad assets and retool. Perhaps GM filing chapter 11 will be the only way for it to retool for the 21 century both technologically but also economically. The bottom line is the Detroit of the 1960’s thru the 1980’s will not exist anymore. But perhaps in the wake of its destruction there will be a workforce a million strong ready to build the economic future of America. 

Perhaps the same workforce that built the cars and trucks of our past can build the solar panels and wind turbines of future. the hydro-electric parts and yes the fuel-cell vehicles of the 21st century. But maybe that will only happen if and when the nation let’s go of a dying industry, perhaps we need the big three to file chapter 11 and come out of the wilderness.

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