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 December, 2008


 Bailout Mania Strikes

Bailing Wire and Bailouts

It seems there are layoffs everywhere - except at unemployment offices.

I own my own business. I’m the sole proprietor. This morning I had a big decision to make. Either to lay myself off, or hitchhike to Washington and plead for bailout money.

Oh, I know we’re all tired of these government bailouts or “bridges,” or whatever they call them.

The fact is there seems to be enough government money to spread around if you know how to put on a suit and tap dance once or twice in front of people who appear “troubled” about the request, but who’ll give in anyway.

Wall Street was first. There was that multi-hundred billion dollar gift to lending institutions, many of which proceeded to do what they did that got them an audience before congress in the first place. They’ve somehow lost the money.

Or at least that’s the word from the Treasury Department, which hasn’t been able to track the money its helped dole out.

If some of these CEO’s of money lending operations keep awarding themselves with luxurious mini-vacations at five star hotels, they’ll be asking for more bailout money. Next time, perhaps, for bail bondsmen.

Bank of America is worthy of some mention here. It’s a bailout recipient (an estimated 25 billion dollars) that recently severed its line of credit to Chicago’s Republic Windows and Door. The company immediately had to fire all of its workers, and without giving them any severance or vacation pay.

When the workers failed to respond to their terminations and they staged a work-in, the company requested B of A reconsider the belt tightening that effectively put them out of business.

B of A’s response? A tersely worded statement that’s giving me hives just typing it, “Such decisions belong to the management and owners of the company."

They may well have told Republic, “We got ours. You get yours.”

This when, in recent days, lay-offs and plant closings have hit American giants like Dow Chemical Co., Viacom and AT&T.

Sony, as you know, has recently furloughed 8,000 of its workers around the world. Some of those workers may be your neighbors.

It’s no wonder congress may publically growl about the nation’s big three automaker’s requests for billions of dollars worth of bailout money, but they’re seriously considering it beyond the klieg lights. I find some of that growling to be highly distasteful. Some of the more vocal opponents of bailouts for America’s big three automakers, represent southern states and congressional districts where foreign automakers have their plants.

Rep. J. Gresham Barrett, R-S.C. recently voiced his opposition by saying, “We're not supposed to pick winners and losers and micromanage companies." Not surprisingly, Barrett’s district is adjacent to the district where BMW has one of its facilities.

Others, who just happen to be southern Republicans, and who also just happen to represent the interests of foreign automakers, seem downright hypocritical with their antipathy toward bailouts.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. claims, “I don't believe this is a good idea to take $25 billion and give it to the three major car companies -- which I think have a business plan that's doomed to fail.”

While on the subject of “doomed,” that’s the same Lindsey Graham who co-sponsored a bill that would have continued subsidizing tobacco growers in 2003.
Graham, back then, was only trying to keep alive an industry that has shown itself to be less concerned about keeping us alive than, say, Graham does General Motors.
Graham and numerous southern members of congress had frequently fought on behalf of tobacco growers in their states.

There’s no easy way out of this mess. Funneling money based on political considerations is bound to make that mess, well, messier.

Consider this. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nevada could be in a rather unenviable position soon.

If the owners of the world renowned brothel known as the Mustang Ranch show up and ask for a little bailout money. It’s in Heller’s district, and even that industry has been hit hard. The Mustang Ranch just laid-off 30% of its work force.

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net